Taking a dip in your swimming pool can be a relaxing feeling after a long day, but it is important to take certain precautions. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin, even for as little as 15 minutes. Here are a few safety recommendations to help protect yourself and your family.
Importance of Sun Exposure Safety
Although a day in the swimming pool sounds relaxing and fun, there are a few things you should be aware of when being outside, even if for just a short period of time. The sun gives off invisible rays of ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are short, high-energy wavelengths that are absorbed by the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. When your skin burns, it responds to UVB rays by producing chemicals called inflammatory mediators, some of which seep down into the dermis, the skin’s middle layer. These chemicals irritate the tiny blood vessels in the dermis, which causes swelling and creates the surface redness of the burn.
Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays — longer than UVB rays — can also cause lasting damage. These UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays, affecting the DNA of the cells in the dermis, attacking cell membranes, and changing the proteins that make up collagen and elastin, which support the skin’s fibrous structure. By undermining these parts of the skin, UVA rays can result in wrinkles and sagging of the skin. They can also contribute to the loss of support for the skin’s tiny blood vessels, which become permanently dilated. Generally, this shows up as a ruddiness or visible spider veins on the nose, cheeks and chin. UVA rays also play a role in the development of skin cancer. This is why appropriate precautions should be taken when enjoying a day in the swimming pool.
By seeking shade under an umbrella, tree or other shelter before you need relief from the sun you can reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer. The best way to protect your skin is to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing when you’re outside—even when you’re in the shade.
When possible, it is best to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts because they can provide protection from UV rays. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection. A T-shirt that is wet offers much less UV protection than a dry one, and darker colors may offer more protection that lighter colors. Some clothing certified under international standards come with information on its ultraviolet protection factor.
In some cases, wearing this type of clothing isn’t practical, especially with soaring temperatures while in the swimming pool. Consider wearing a T-shirt or beach cover up. It is important to keep in mind that a typical T-shirt has an SPF rating lower than 15, so use other types of protection as well.
Wearing a hat with a brim all the way around that shades your face, ears and the back of your neck can provide the most protection. A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works best to protect your skin from UV rays. Straw hats with holes that let sunlight through should be avoided. A darker hat may offer more UV protection.
Whether you’re enjoying a day in the swimming pool, or just outside in genera, sunglasses can protect your eyes immensely from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.
The best protection is offered by sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. Most sunglasses sold in the United States, regardless of cost, meet this standard. Sunglasses that wrap-around are best because they block UV rays from sneaking in from the side.
Before you go outside, even on slightly cloudy or cool days, it is important to put on broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15. Don’t forget to put a thick layer on all parts of exposed skin. For hard-to-reach places like your back get help. And remember, sunscreen works best when combined with other options to prevent UV damage.
How Sunscreen Works
Most sun protection products work by absorbing, reflecting or scattering sunlight. They hold chemicals that interact with your skin to protect it from UV rays. All products do not have the same ingredients, so if your skin reacts badly to one, try another one or call a doctor.
Sunscreens are assigned a sun protection factor (SPF) number that rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays. High numbers indicate more protection. A broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 should be used.
A product’s SPF rating helps determine how long the product will protect you before you need to re-apply it. For example, you may normally burn in 20 minutes. If you apply an SPF 15 sunscreen, you’ll be protected for about 300 minutes, or five hours (SPF 15 x 20 minutes = 300 minutes). A person who has lightly pigmented skin and burns in 10 minutes would be protected for only about two-and-a-half hours with SPF 15 (SPF 15 x 10 minutes = 150 minutes).
Sunscreen wears off so it is important reapply it ever so often. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating or drying off with a towel.
It is important to check to sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years, but its shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.
There are some makeup and lip balm options available which contain some of the same chemicals used in sunscreens. If they do not have at least SPF 15, don’t use them by themselves.
It is important to take these precautions, especially when enjoying a day in the swimming pool. For more information on sun exposure safety, feel free to contact us here at Paradise Oasis Pools with the link below!