7 Sun-Safety Strategies to Follow on Vacation

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Whether you’re hitting the beach or the hiking trails, taking a cruise or touring a city, vacation often means spending a lot more time in the sun than usual. And yet it’s easy to let our sun-safety habits lapse when we travel.

All of the same sun-safety rules apply no matter where you are, including applying sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology guidelines call for using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on all exposed skin, and reapplying it at least every 2 hours or immediately after swimming or heavy sweating. But in addition those basics, there are some special considerations to keep in mind depending on where your travels take you. These tips will help you keep your skin safe on the road.  

1. Cover Up During Transit

The sun’s ultraviolet A rays—which usually don’t cause sunburn but can lead to skin aging and skin cancer—are able to penetrate glass and plastic. That means they can still damage your skin when you’re in a car or sitting in a window seat on an airplane. You’re at 30,000 feet, where the sun’s rays are stronger, and often the plane’s windows are not UV-protected, says Mona Gohara, M.D., a clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine. “Not surprisingly, pilots have very high rates of skin cancer,” she adds.

2. Be Careful Near Water

A study published in 2009 by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health found that for every vacation taken near the water, the number of moles children had increased by 5 percent. And having more moles increases the risk of developing melanoma later. More diligent sunscreen application helps, but for long days on the beach it may not be enough. “Cover up with protective clothing and hats, and do most of your beach activities in the morning and late afternoon,” says Doug Grossman, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of dermatology at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the…

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