Skip to main content

I love outdoor activities this time of year. Can I avoid getting sunburned?

“If you’re spending time in the sun, help protect your skin from harmful solar radiation by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30,” says Michael Gifford, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “While enjoying outdoor activities, be sure to apply sunscreen liberally at least 20 minutes before exposure and reapply every two hours and after swimming.”

Dr. Gifford also recommends trying to avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3.p.m. when ultraviolet (UV) rays are strongest. He says it’s important to apply sunscreen and wear sun-protective clothing even on overcast days, as enough UV rays can penetrate clouds to deliver skin-damaging sunburns.

“You’re right to be concerned,” Dr. Gifford says. “Besides being painful, too much sun can damage skin in ways that increase your chances of developing melanoma – a potentially deadly form of skin cancer if left untreated.”

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. And melanoma is the most common cancer among young adults between 25 and 29.

“If you get sunburned, apply cool compresses to affected areas. In case of severe sunburn, call your doctor,” concludes Dr. Gifford, who cares for patients at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – Downtown at the Shops at Houston Center and at Kelsey-Seybold’s Main Campus clinic near the Texas Medical Center.​​