Beat the Heat & Bugs!
While we welcome the warmth of summer, there are two pesky things that go along with it: sun and bugs! Here are some quick tips to help you choose and use sunscreen and insect repellent.
- Choose broad spectrum coverage – Select a sunscreen that contains protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Ultraviolet-A rays can increase the risk of skin cancer, while ultraviolet-B rays cause sunburns and skin damage.
- Select 30 SPF or higher – Ever wonder what SPF actually stands for? It’s a sunscreen’s Sun Protection Factor, the degree to which the sunscreen will reflect and absorb damaging rays. Just remember that a higher SPF doesn’t meant the sunscreen works longer. It just has slightly more protection.
- Apply ahead of time – It can take up to 30 minutes for your skin to absorb sunscreen, so apply it before heading out.
- Slather on a lot – Sunscreen is only effective if it covers all of your exposed skin. Use an amount equivalent to the size of a golf ball. Make sure you get your ears, tops of your feet, back of your neck, and the part in your hair.
- Reapply often – It takes only a couple of hours for sunscreen to lose effectiveness. While putting more on every two hours is great for when you are just out and about, if you are sweating or swimming you should reapply sunscreen every hour or so.
- Cover up – Sunscreen is not the only way to protect your skin from sunscreen. You can also were a solid, wide-brimmed hat, wrap-around sunglasses, and either tightly woven or sun-shielding clothing.
- Choose wisely – While DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide or N,N-diemethylbenzamide) lasts the longest, there are plenty of effective natural insect repellents. The biggest difference between natural repellents is how long they are effective. Look for bug sprays with lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass, lavender, vanilla, and citronella.
- Apply carefully – Check product instructions before applying your bug repellent. Lemon eucalyptus oil in particular is not for use on children ages 3 and under. Be especially careful when spraying these products near your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. In fact, for sensitive spots like around your eyes, spray a small amount on your fingertips and apply by hand. Also, watch for any skin irritation and discontinue use if you experience and redness or rash.
- Reapply often – Natural repellents may only be effective for as little as 20 minutes. To be safe, plan to reapply natural bug sprays every 15 minutes.
- Cover up – Bug spray alone will help prevent many insect bites, but a layer of protective clothing can do wonders. To avoid ticks in particular, wear light colored clothing (to make them easier to spot) and tuck your pant legs into your socks. You can also apply repellent to your clothing and shoes.
- Apply after sunscreen – Let your sunscreen absorb before applying insect repellent. Otherwise, the sunscreen might have trouble sinking in with a layer of bug spray beneath it.