After being cooped up all winter with the cold and all spring with the rain, we look forward to those long, lazy, sun-filled summer days. But if you are not prepared to protect yourself from sunburn and insect bites, you may find the summer season something to avoid rather than enjoy.
Sunlight generates ultraviolet radiation that can lead to cancer and damage to the eyes. In fact, in 2002 the National Institutes of Health added UV radiation to the list of identified carcinogens in America. People who work outdoors, babies, senior citizens and those with fair skin and light-colored eyes are at higher risk for skin cancer.
Another summertime danger is insect bites. Mosquitoes, ants, spiders, bees and fleas are particularly obnoxious – and they are everywhere. Their bites can cause symptoms ranging from swelling, pain and itchiness to life-threatening allergic reactions.
To protect yourself from these dangers, follow the ABCs of summer skin care:
* Avoid the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its brightest. Take your daily walk in the morning or late afternoon. Many insects breed in water, so stay away from stagnant pools and soggy grass.
* Block sunlight with a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. Apply sunblock half an hour before going out and reapply every couple of hours.
* Cover up. Wear loose-fitting, tightly woven clothes that reach your wrists and ankles; UV-protected sunglasses; and hats with 4-inch brims to cover eyes, ears, scalp and neck. Insects are attracted to bright colors and strong perfumes, so dress neutrally and go easy on scents.
* Defend yourself. Use a spray to repel bugs. One to try is Hamba Suka Natural Insect Repellent, from the Molo Africa line of products, an all-natural spray made with high-quality essential oils. This is a 100 percent natural product that repels insects such as ants, fleas, mosquitoes and flies. The spray contains no poisons or harmful chemicals.