Sunburn on the Trail

As summer steadily approaches, it’s important for outdoorsmen to consider the potential health risks that walk hand in hand with hot weather. One such danger is sunburn, which can sneak up on you even in cloudy conditions. Keeping reading for tips on how to prevent catching sunburn this summer.

The first step to avoiding sunburn is to minimize your exposure to the sun between 10am and 4pm, especially around noon, when the potential for sun damage is greatest. During these peak intensity hours, a fair-skinned person could suffer skin damage in less than 15 minutes. If possible, use this time for a rest in the shade or try to plan to keep your time on the trail under the trees when the sun is the most intense.

It’s so crucial to shade your head, neck, ears and eyes when spending any amount of time in the sun, particularly at high elevations, where a thinner atmosphere allows more UV rays to reach your skin. You can also purchase outdoor clothing that comes with SPF ratings, as well as fabrics with tighter weaves help keep the sun off your skin. Also, if you’re wearing sunglasses, try to find a pair that offers both UVA and UVB protection.

Obviously, sunscreen is a must-have. However, your sunscreen should block both UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to examine product spec sheets or packaging to verify this level of protection. If you’re taking any medication, check with your doctor to determine if any medications you are taking increase your susceptibility to sunburn.

If you do get burned, be sure to soothe damaged areas with an aloe-based skin cream right away. Keep burned areas covered for the remainder of your trip with clothing or a strong sunscreen to avoid further damage. If the sunburn is serious and you experience persistent nausea, chills or fever, seek professional medical attention as soon as possible.

Sunburn can occur on both cloudy and sunny days, and the risk also increases with elevation change, so taking measures to prevent it by wearing strong sunscreen and protecting your head and face is vital. The tips outlined above will get you started in the right direction, so keep them in mind when you hit the trail on those sunny days!