UV Safety: Sun Protection for Seniors

Article | April 2020

UV Safety: Sun Protection for Seniors

As we age, it’s even more important to practice good UV safety. Check out these sun protection tips for older adults.

It's never too late to protect yourself from the sun.

  • Did you know that 40 to 50 percent of Americans aged 65 and older will have skin cancer at least once?
  • Most skin cancers result from sun damage over time. Since seniors have lived longer, we have had the most exposure to the sun.

Our skin undergoes changes as we age, which weakens our defenses against skin disease. Our thinner skin allows UV light to penetrate more deeply, which can make us more vulnerable to skin damage. Smoking and pollution also harm our body’s ability to protect us from damage from the sun. All of this increases our risk of getting skin cancer.

Skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer.

What are some UV safety tips for older adults?

  • Pay attention to the time. The sun’s UV rays are the strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. Try to schedule your time outside in the early morning or afternoon. If you must be outside during this time, stay in the shade.
  • Use the right sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher and has “blocks UVA and UVB” or “broad spectrum” on the label.
  • Use sunscreen correctly. Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before being in the sun and then reapplied every 2 hours. Be sure to reapply immediately after swimming or heavy sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing. Wearing protective clothing like a wide-brimmed hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants can protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. Some types of outdoor clothing are designed to filter UV rays. Also, be sure to remember your UV-filtering sunglasses.

Taking a few extra precautions will allow you to enjoy your time outdoors.

More Information

To learn more about sun protection, check out the Skin Cancer Foundation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites.

Senior woman on paddle board on lake