Protect Yourself From the Sun
The warm weather is drawing more people outside to play. While sunlight will help our bones, and boost our spirits, its powerful UV radiation can do some serious damage if you don’t take the proper precautions— especially if you will be playing tennis outside for a few hours.
UV radiation can cause both short-term and long-term skin illnesses. The most common and immediate illnesses are sunburn and sun allergy (also known as heat rash) which can cause discomfort, redness, bumps, hives, blisters, and swelling of the skin. These symptoms are just temporary and can be treated with over-the-counter medication, but each sunburn and heat rash increases the chances of getting melanoma. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer, which can appear as a small freckle at first, but may later grow and change colors over time. No one is safe from skin cancer. Even a few young 18 year-old tennis players have needed treatment in the past. Other long-term damage caused by UV radiation includes skin damage, loss of elasticity, and premature wrinkles.
To protect your skin, there are a few precautions you should take:
- Wear sunblock at least 30 minutes before you head outside— even on cloudy or foggy days.
- Remember to apply sunblock to your ears, eyelids, hair parting, and the back of your legs and neck
- Reapply sunblock every 2 hours
- Wear UV blocking clothes and a hat
- Use extra protection between 10am and 4pm.
- Be aware of your local UV index (it’s usually provided on weather reports)
- Keep tabs on any unusual moles or blemishes on your skin
Sunblock and sunscreen are not the same thing. Sunblock blocks out UV radiation while sunscreen only filters it. When deciding on a sunblock, athletes should select a water resistant one with an SPF of 15-30. This way, the sunblock won’t wash off with sweat during a tennis workout and will still provide the best possible protection. It would also be optimal to select a sunblock with a broad spectrum that blocks both UVA and UVB radiation, and to look for its key ingredients: zinc and titanium oxide. For those concerned about acne, a non-comedogenic sunblock will not clog pores.
Go enjoy the great outdoors, but don’t forget your sunblock!
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