The Floridian's Guide to Braving the Sun

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In Florida, the sun is both our best friend and our worst enemy. It gives us warm weather all year round, is the reason we can play outdoors so much, and keeps us healthy with ampe vitamin D. But it’s also the cause of a plethora of health problems - including skin cancer and eye damage. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun while enjoying its benefits.

The part of sunshine that damages people is the UV rays. There are actually 3 types of UV rays, but UVA rays do the most damage. And when it comes to parts of the country that get the most UV ray action, the Tampa area is in the top 10. Shocker! Here’s another statistic for you: one in every five people in America will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. You may not think this one beach trip or fishing excursion will have a big effect on your skin, but it’s best to protect your skin every time you’re in the sun for a long period of time. UV damage will build up and you won’t know there’s a problem until it’s too late.

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So first of all, sunscreen is important. There are two major types of sunscreen - chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreen soaks up the UV rays before they reach your skin, whereas physical sunscreen reflects the rays off your skin. The chemical type provides more protection, while the physical type is better for sensitive skin. You can choose the type that’s best for you depending on how prone you are to burn and how sensitive your skin is.

Something else to consider when you’re planning a sun-filled outing is the time of day you’ll be in the sun. You should know that no type of sunscreen blocks 100% of UV rays. If you’re out when the sun’s rays are strongest - between 10am and 2pm - you have a high chance of getting burned if you have fair skin. Even darker skin tones are not immune to UV rays. During these times, you’ll want to apply sunscreen every 1-1.5 hrs, and wear hats and protective clothing for additional coverage.

And don’t be fooled by overcast days. Up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can still get to your skin on cloudy days. UV rays can also reflect off of water and sand, so being under a canopy isn’t fool-proof protection, either. Many a fisherman has thought he didn’t need sunscreen because he was under the canopy in the boat, but came home with salmon-colored skin. The only sure way to avoid UV rays is to apply ample sunscreen frequently and to wear long sleeves, long pants, and a hat.

Something a lot of people don’t think about is the sun’s negative effect on eyes. UV rays damage the retina, and can cause eye problems like Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Cataracts, Pterygium, and Cancer of the Eye, just to mention a few. Sun damage accumulates and may not appear until later in life. But children are especially susceptible to UV rays’ damage because their lens are immature. Thankfully, protecting your eyes is a little easier than protecting your skin. Just remember those sunglasses! But remember, you still need protection on cloudy and rainy days.

I hope I’ve given you some tips for knowing how to protect yourself from the sun while taking advantage of its numerous benefits. Florida is a beautiful place to live, and if you need any real estate help, I’d love to talk with you! You can get in touch with me through email, phone at (863) 450-8847, social media, or my mobile app. I look forward to talking with you!