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However, too much sun is not good. To balance the benefits of gardening with the peril of too much sun exposure, take the time to protect yourself before heading outdoors.
First, avoid spending an extended period of time outdoors during the middle of the day. When the sun is directly overhead its rays are the most intense because they have to travel a comparatively short distance through Earth’s atmosphere. In early morning and late afternoon, the sun’s rays travel through the atmosphere at an angle and are less intense. This is great news for gardeners, because early morning is a wonderful time to garden!
Always use sun protection when outdoors. Wear a hat to protect your scalp, face, neck, and décolleté from direct sun. Try to wear long sleeves and pants whenever possible. Apply at least SPF 15 to all exposed skin, and reapply it every two hours. I know that this may all seem like a real pain, when all you want to do smell the roses and munch on some home grown sugar-snap peas. But remember, skin damage is cumulative. By the time you develop sun spots or skin cancer, it’s too late.
You can also use shade strategically. If you need to re-pot some plants, why not locate your potting bench under an awning or patio cover where it is cool and shady? Beach umbrellas are also handy. You can stick them in the ground near the area where you are working, and reposition them as you move about your garden for some mobile shade.
If you do still manage to get a sunburn, you can calm your inflamed skin by sponging strongly brewed, chilled tea on the affected area. Green or black, use whatever you have on hand, it doesn’t make a difference. It’s the tannins in tea that are anti-inflammatory, which will help sooth your inflamed skin.
Cool baths and aloe vera gel are also helpful for soothing a sunburn.
Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!