Byte of Prevention Blog

by Will Graebe |

Soak Up the Sun—But Not Too Much

If your childhood was anything like mine, you started every summer with a sunburn and peel. After a couple burns, you had a sufficient base tan to slather on the Coppertone oil to get that serious bronze glow. We never thought about the risks associated with sun exposure back in those days. I have paid the price as an adult with numerous skin extractions. I am on a first-name basis with my dermatologist and have a standing appointment every six months. So, I have learned to take certain precautions when it comes to the sun.

As summer draws near, you might want to consider your own skin health. The risk-to-benefit ratio of sun exposure varies greatly among individuals. Those with a heightened susceptibility to skin cancer face risks that far outweigh any potential benefits, making stringent sun protection imperative. Individuals with darker skin tones have a lower risk of skin cancer but face a higher likelihood of vitamin D deficiency. For those falling between extremes, striking a balance is important. Prioritizing sun protection to mitigate skin cancer risk while ensuring adequate sun exposure to maintain optimal vitamin D levels is an important component of wellness. 

Everyone requires sunlight exposure to generate vitamin D, vital for enhancing calcium absorption and promoting stronger bones. However, unprotected exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays carries risks, potentially harming the skin, eyes, and immune system, and increasing the likelihood of cancer. While factors like genetics and surroundings also play a role, sunburn and excessive UV exposure are particularly detrimental, leading to skin damage, premature aging (photoaging), and potentially, skin cancer. Olderindividuals face an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency, attributed to age-related changes in both the production and metabolism of vitamin D. Factors such as decreased sun exposure and diminished skin production capacity contribute to this heightened susceptibility among older adults. So, while it is important to be cautious, it is also important to look at all sum related guidelines to ensure optimal health at any age. 

Here are some important reminders as we start making our summer plans:

  • Use broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 generously on all exposed skin. Look for sunscreens that shield against both UVA and UVB rays. Remember to reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts, pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses whenever feasible. Seek out clothing with a UV protection factor.
  • Seek shade when appropriate, particularly during the sun's peak hours between 10am - 4pm. When your shadow is shorter than you are, find shelter.
  • Exercise caution around water, snow, and sand, as they reflect harmful sun rays, increasing the risk of sunburn.
  • Ensure adequate vitamin D intake through a balanced diet or supplements.
  • Avoid tanning beds, as they can contribute to skin cancer and premature aging. Instead, consider using self-tanning products in conjunction with sunscreen.
  • Protect your lips with lip balm containing at least SPF 15.
  • Regularly examine your skin for any changes, growths, or bleeding, and promptly consult a healthcare professional if you notice anything unusual. 
  • Invest in protective eyewear.
  • Be aware that certain over-the-counter and prescription medications can increase skin sensitivity to UV rays, potentially leading to severe sunburn.




About the Author

Will Graebe

Will Graebe came to Lawyers Mutual in 1998 as claims counsel. In 2009, Will became the Vice President of the Claims Department and served in that role until 2019. After a two-year sabbatical, Will returned to Lawyers Mutual as claims counsel and relationship manager. In his role as claims counsel, Will focuses primarily on claims related to estates and trusts, business transactions and real estate matters. Will received his J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Stetson University. Prior to joining Lawyers Mutual, will worked in private practice with the law firm of Pinna, Johnston & Burwell.  

Read More by Will >

Related Posts