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Play it a shade safer when playing and watching sports!

Sun protection tips for ATHLETES and SPORTS SPECTATORS

While many of us remember sun protection when heading to the beach or outdoor swimming pool, we sometimes forget when it comes to participating in or attending a sporting event. Sun protection is easy and should be a part of your healthy lifestyle.

Athletes have a lower incident of most diseases except for one: skin cancer, because of their prolonged exposure to the elements while training or competing. When asked why they don't use sunscreen the athlete's responses were fairly predictable: it's greasy, it's oily, it takes too long to apply, I can't get it off my hands, it blocks my pores, basically it's just a lot of trouble.

Beyond just offering protection from the sun's rays, however, sunscreen can also help prevent overheating. When it is not used or reapplied enough, the resulting sunburn can interfere with the skin's natural ability to perspire. The ideal situation for athletes, then, is to use a sunscreen that doesn't clog the pores but protects against broad spectrum UVA and UVB rays.

Here are a few tips to keep protected and safe:

Time of day
The sun's rays are most powerful and can harm your skin particularly from 11 am to 4 pm. Try to SCHEDULE your sporting activities or training before 11 am or after 4 pm if possible. Since people watching sport are often out in the sun longer than athletes and through parts of the day when the sun is strongest, extra PRECAUTION should be taken.

Shade
SEEK SHADE from trees, awnings or buildings wherever possible. If there is little shade at a sporting event, bring your own shade such as an umbrella or portable tent. Ask your club committee to consider building a shade structure or planting shade trees.

Clothing
Wear CLOTHING that covers as much of your skin as possible. Choose materials that are light and cool, such as cotton or lightweight synthetics. Shirts with collars help protect your neck. Wear a wide brimmed or legionnaire-style HAT (with a back flap). Baseball caps don't protect the ears or the vulnerable neck area. Don't forget SUNGLASSES . 100% UV protection, wraparounds are best.

Sunscreen
Apply a broad spectrum, SPF 15 or higher SUNSCREEN 15 to 30 minutes before going out. Reapply sunscreen to exposed sites 15 to 30 minutes after sun exposure begins and then every two hours, especially after vigorous activity or sweating. Don't forget to use an SPF 15 or higher LIP BALM . Choose a waterproof or sweatproof sunscreen if you are in the water or will be sweating. Some "sport" sunscreens are now available and work well.

For more information, consult www.dermatology.ca