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USM Nurse Practitioner Emphasizes the Importance of Sun Safety this Summer

Thu, 06/06/2024 - 10:03am | By: Gabriela Shinskie

With warmer temperatures upon us, many will flock to the coastlines and poolside this summer for some outdoor fun in the sun. Now is the time to protect one’s skin from UVA ray (ultraviolet) exposure and keep bodies hydrated, and The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Gulf Park Health Center (GPHC) is sharing tips for proper sun safety.


Connie Richardson, nurse practitioner at the GPHC, urges the use of sunscreen protection year-round and especially during the summer. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), skin cancer is on the rise, with The National Cancer Institute estimating more than 100,000 new cases of skin melanomas in the past year.

“We can’t see the UV rays,” Richardson said. “We try to recommend that individuals limit their sun exposure from 10 a.m.  - 2 p.m. and wear good sunscreen. I recommend using SPF 15 or higher and make sure to reapply and wear protective eyewear.”

Wearing sun protective clothing is essential when spending longer periods of time outside. Richardson recommends limiting sun exposure from 30 minutes to an hour, although staying within this time frame can be a challenge with various outdoor activities. She also stressed the importance of checking one’s body for abnormal blemishes.

“Be aware of irregular moles or skin lesions that tend to not heal,” she continued. “This should be brought up to your primary care provider and dermatologist.”

Dermatologists recommend applying sunscreen year-round on the face, neck, arms, and any other exposed area of the body. Many cosmetics are now adding SPF to face products to protect against aging.

Keeping hydrated with proper fluids is another key element to staying safe outdoors in the summer. Signs of dehydration include extreme thirst, fatigue, dizziness, and dark-colored urine. Alcohol is another dehydration contributor that can increase water loss throughout the day.  According to the National Institute of Health, water makes up about two-thirds of one’s body content. In more humid and hot environments, it’s important to stay hydrated with increased fluids. Richardson recommends always keeping a water bottle handy.

“If you’re losing a lot of water through sweat, rehydrate with sport drinks,” she said. “However, water is definitely number one.”

Lear more about the Gulf Park Health Center.