Athletes are hard on their skin. Road rash, blisters and chafing are just a few injuries that can occur while out on the roads and trails. Another skin injury—the sunburn—is something that half of all adults have at least once each year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. And considering skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, it's important to protect your skin while exercising outdoors.
Applying sunscreen is the most obvious way to prevent sunburn, but there are some other ways to keep your skin safe while running, biking, swimming or participating in other outdoor activities.
William Kirby, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and board-certified dermatologist, has a few tips for athletes before you head outdoors to train.
More: Sunscreen 101: What the Lables Mean
1) Barrier protection from the sun is best for athletes. Wearing hats, sunglasses and long sleeves are what dermatologists recommend for athletes.
TRY: Patagonia's 50+ UPF clothing, the higher the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating, the lower the amount of UV rays that reach your skin through the fabric.
2) Sunblock works better than sunscreen for people who are active. Look for products with physical blocks like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These last longer and are more water resistant.
TRY: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunblock SPF 100+ , with a high SPF to keep you covered no matter how much you slather on.
More: 5 Tips to Beat the Heat
3) Exercising before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. is the best way to avoid the most damaging UV rays.
TRY: An afternoon workout, to take advantage of your body's peak temperature and allow yourself the extra time to sleep in the morning.
If you do get sunburned, Kirby suggests 325 mg of buffered aspirin twice daily for three days, if you don't have a history of bleeding and after you have checked with your doctor.
"Over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone mixed with petroleum jelly is a great soothing agent to use for a week as well," Kirby says.
If you do get a sunburn, take a break from exercise and sweating because it impacts the healing time.
"A sunburn is an injury and athletes need to treat it as such," Kirby says. "Hydrate and avoid further damage by resting while it heals."
Stay in shape in a fitness class.