Spring break survival tips: Sun protection


It’s almost spring break and many of you may be preparing for a fun-filled vacation to some place warmer than northeast PA. While spring break trips can be loaded with fun, they hold many dangers that you must prepare for as well.

Not many people think about wearing sunscreen in the first weeks of March, but you should! The sun’s UV rays can be very dangerous not only to your skin, but also your eyes! Try to limit the amount of time you spend in direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when sun is the strongest. Choose a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher and has protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

Sun damage may occur in as little as 15 minutes after exposure so be sure to apply sunscreen 10-15 minutes before going outside so it is absorbed. Plan ahead. Be sure to cover any areas of your body that may be exposed to the sun including (but not limited to) the tops of and behind your ears, the tops of your hands and feet, under your chin, your neck, shoulders, and upper back. Make sure to apply evenly and get help applying sunscreen anywhere you cannot easily reach. Apply generously; putting on too little amount of sunscreen could reduce the sun protection. Medications may increase your risk for sunburn too… ask your pharmacist for more information.

Just because you apply sunscreen once does not mean you are protected for the entire day. Most sunscreens suggest that you reapply it about every 2 hours. However, if you go swimming or sweat at all you must reapply sooner even if it is advertised as “water resistant.” Sunscreen alone may not offer enough protection by itself. It may be a good idea to wear a hat, long sleeves, and/or long pants to make sure you are thoroughly protected. There is a give and take with long clothing though, as while it may protect you from the sun, it may also cause you to sweat more and put you in danger of dehydration. Stay hydrated with water! You should invest in a pair of UVA and UVB protected sunglasses because the sun can cause significant damage to your eyes, especially when it reflects off the water, sand, or surrounding buildings. If you plan on driving or doing something that will require consistently clear (non-glaring) vision, you may want to invest in a pair of sunglasses that are polarized as well. One final product you should consider is lip balm to protect your lips from the sun. Lip balms can also have UV protection and offer protection because even your lips are at risk for skin cancer! Try to find a lip balm that has a SPF of 30 or higher.

If you do end up getting sunburn, it is important to limit your time in the sun in the immediate future and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You can try taking a cool bath to feel better and apply moisturizer over your damp (not wet) skin to help with any discomfort. Medications such as ibuprofen or hydrocortisone cream may help reduce some of the redness and discomfort you can experience. It is always a good idea to discuss medications with a pharmacist or doctor before using them if you are unsure. If your skin begins to blister due to your exposure to the sun, do not break the skin. The blisters allow your skin to heal safely. If you experience any symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, chills, or a fever you should seek medical attention immediately.

Remember, the best way to stay safe while away on any trip is to plan ahead. Know where you will be and what you will be doing and pack accordingly. Having fun is important, but even an hour or so of not being properly protected can ruin the rest of your trip. For more information, please search for the articles listed below!


“Spring Break Health and Safety Tips.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 Feb. 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

“Sunscreen FAQs.” Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.