It is winter and I am itching to go to Mexico for our yearly vacation away from the cold. I heard that "pre-tanning" can help me avoid sunburn while on the beach in Mexico. My husband tells me that it is better to protect myself from the sun while in Mexico and not worry about "pre-tanning" in Alberta. What should we do?
This is a very common question this time of the year as countless Albertans decide to head south for a little warm retreat. While down south - be is USA, Mexico or Central America - vacationers are looking for some sun, beach and relaxation.
Artificial tanning through the use of tanning beds provides only minimal protection from sunburn. At the same time it can give false sense of security and protection that is not really there.
My recommendations for those heading to warm sunny places for holidays are:
- Enjoy your time in the sun and on the beach but limit it to reasonable amounts. We all know that staying on the beach all day without any shade or sunscreen will likely lead to painful sunburn.
- Have a hat that protects your face, ears and neck. There are many very nice light-weight and comfortable hats that can be purchased in Canada or abroad that will to the trick.
- Seek shade when you can. It is fine to enjoy sunshine while you swim and play on the beach but seek shade afterwards under an umbrella or a tree.
- Use sunscreen when you know that shade is hard to find. While in sunny climate, I recommend a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF30 or higher. It should have both UVA and UVB protection. It is important to apply it before sun exposure and reapplying every 2 hours or more frequently when sweating on after swimming.
These recommendations are designed to maximize your fun and enjoyment while preventing untoward sun damage.
One thing is important to note - we like and need to have fun in the sun and we need to bring great memories from our vacations and not blistering sunburn.
Enjoy and have fun!
The information provided on this website is for Canadian patients only and is meant for information and education that is based on experience and research.