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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My Sunburn Preparedness Kit

If you are going on any kind of outing, take the following items to ensure you won’t have an attack of “lobster skin.” All of these suggested articles will fit in a small backpack or beach bag. Don’t leave home without them, or you may come back home sporting a sunburn. 

Always have a lightweight, long-sleeved, white T-shirt (like the kind you get for running a race or a sun-protective type). It will cover most of your upper body and save you from burning. You can pull it on and off if you are boating, on the beach, or even taking a long walk or hike. It can be wrapped around your waist when you aren’t wearing it. Lighter colors reflect light and won’t make you feel as hot as darker colors. Better yet, purchase an SPF-rated long-sleeved shirt. These are widely available nowadays, although they can be pricey.

Cotton, linen, or other lightweight, drawstring or other loose-fitting pants in a light, sun-reflecting color are good to have around—especially on a boat. If your legs have been exposed for a while, slip these pants on and keep the sun away until you’re ready for more. You can find SPF-rated long pants as well.

A bandana or scarf is another important sun protector. The T-shirt won’t cover the nape of your neck. If you have short hair or your hair is pulled up off your neck, this area is highly susceptible to sunburn. The bandana or scarf can be tied loosely around your neck, like a scout, covering most of the back of your neck. You can also dip the bandana in water before putting it on. (The water will help to keep you cool.) 

Take a hat. You should always have a hat with you, even if it’s just a visor or baseball cap, if you are going to be out in the sun. Wide-brimmed hats offer you much better sun protection than caps, but any kind of hat is better than no hat at all.

Of course, you want your trusty sunscreen. Waterproof is best if you are going to be in, on, or by the water. Waterproof sun protection also needs to be worn if you are going to be outside in the heat for any length of time where you’ll be sweating (even mowing the lawn or gardening). And finally, if you will be exercising, then of course you’ll want to wear waterproof sunscreen. Otherwise, in the first few minutes of sweating, you will be left unprotected.

Don’t forget your sunglasses. Most sunglasses sold today have UV sun protectors built into the glass. Check to make sure, and then make sure to wear them. Not only can they filter harmful rays from your eyes, but they will also keep you from squinting. (Squinting will rapidly increase the lines around your eyes.)

Aloe and sunburn. Probably the best known treatment for sunburn is aloe vera gel. If this is news to you, next time you have a severe or even just a slight sunburn, be sure to have aloe vera gel handy to help treat your damaged skin. Aloe is almost entirely made up of water along with proteins. Since sunburned skin has essentially had all the water sucked out of it, replenishing this vital hydrating liquid is all-important. Aloe vera gel will not only soothe the pain and swelling of a sunburn, it will also speed healing of your sun-damaged skin. Since sunburns do happen, always have aloe vera gel (100% gel is fairly easy to find) in your sunburn kit for those times when the sun has gotten the better of you.

Drinking water is also important because it helps to rehydrate your system after sun exposure. A bowl of water sitting in the hot sun will evaporate in a short time. Your body, through sweating and evaporation, also loses a lot of water when out in the sun. These fluids need to be replaced often. Keep in mind, alcohol is a diuretic and leaches water out of your body. If you’re drinking alcohol and are exposed to the sun, you really need to seek out some shade and keep your system hydrated with lots and lots of water.

All of these items
  • a long-sleeved T-shirt
  • loose-fitting pants
  • a bandana
  • a hat
  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses
  • aloe vera gel
  • water 
can easily be carried with you whenever you’re going to engage in outdoor activities. Be prepared, be careful, and most of all enjoy your (protected) self.

For some additional tips, see: