Tips to protect your skin from the sun and avoid poison ivy, oak, and sumac

Protect your skin with summer skin care tips

Long summer days can mean more time spent outdoors— and more sun exposure. Protect your skin and prevent sunburns by choosing a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, of 15 or higher. Apply sunscreen at least 20 to 30 minutes before you go outside. If you will be swimming or sweating, reapply your sunscreen when you get out of the water or finish an activity.

Also, keep in mind that some medications may cause your skin to be more sensitive to sun exposure, so check with your health care provider or pharmacist.

The sun’s rays are strongest from 10 am to 2 pm
If you can’t avoid being outdoors, try to find a shady area, or wear protective clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt or wide-brimmed hat.

While you are spending time outdoors, keep an eye out for plants such as poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. The oils produced by these plants may cause skin irritation—usually in the form of an itchy, red rash—if you come into contact with them. Learn ways to identify them so you can avoid them:

  • Poison ivy: grows on a vine with three shiny leaves with a red stem; common all over the United States
  • Poison oak: similar to poison ivy and often found along riverbanks; more common on the West Coast
  • Poison sumac: grows as a shrub with 7—13 leaves in pairs; very common near the Mississippi River

If you do come into contact with any of these plants, wash the affected area of your body as soon as possible. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions or concerns about your skin, or if you notice any changes in the appearance or condition of your skin.

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