Home Sunburn Why Is It Easy to Get a Sunburn While Swimming: 7 Reasons & 7 Safety Tips

Why Is It Easy to Get a Sunburn While Swimming: 7 Reasons & 7 Safety Tips

The 7 Factors That Make Swimming a Sunburn Risk [7 Prevention Tips]
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UV, the frequency range of ultraviolet light responsible for sunburn, is absorbed by water. To Ensure sufficient protection, several meters of water are required. Even with half a meter of water, 40% of UV can still penetrate, and the cooling effect of the water diminishes one's awareness of the Sun.

As the sun reflects off the ocean (or lake or swimming pool), its rays are intensified and are more likely to burn your skin. A light cloud can scatter UV radiation, causing it to reflect off surfaces like buildings, concrete, sand, and water.

In this blog post, we’ll explore why it is easy to get a sunburn while swimming, the factors contributing to sunburn while swimming, and how to prevent sunburn while swimming.

Why Is It Easy to Get a Sunburn While Swimming: 7 Reasons

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When you are in the water, it might seem like you are protected from the sun's harmful UV rays, but you are more vulnerable to sunburn. The following factors make it easy to get a sunburn while swimming:

Reflection of Sunlight on Water

There is a risk of sunburn if the skin is exposed to UV radiation from the sunlight. The excellent reflectivity of the water surface (up to 80%) can magnify sun rays, penetrating the skin's upper layer. The reflection of the water can, therefore, increase the risk of sunburn, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during peak sun hours.

Chlorine in Pool Water

There is chlorine in swimming pools to kill germs and bacteria. However, it can also strip natural oils from the skin and cause dryness, making it more sensitive to UV radiation. Chlorine can react with UV rays and produce harmful chemical compounds that may damage the skin further.

Length of Swimming Time

The duration of swimming time under the sun also contributes to sunburn. Spending long hours in the water without reapplying sunscreen can amplify the risk of burning. Applying sunscreen 30 minutes before swimming and reapply every two hours or as needed is advisable.

Lack of Sunscreen Protection

Sunscreen should be applied even on cloudy days because UV rays can penetrate the clouds. However, many people must remember to apply or reapply sunscreen when swimming. Using waterproof sunscreen with a high SPF level can provide optimal protection against sunburn while swimming.

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Movement in the Water

When swimming, the action can displace the sunscreen from the skin's surface, leaving it vulnerable to sunburn. This scenario is typical for individuals who swim for extended periods. Applying a thicker layer of sunscreen can be beneficial in this situation.

Inadequate Sunscreen Protection

Although sunscreen is essential for outdoor activities, it can be easily washed off or rubbed off by the water. People often forget to reapply the sunscreen after getting into the water, leading to unprotected skin and sunburn. In addition, using sunscreen with a lower SPF than recommended or applying it too thinly can also contribute to the likelihood of sunburns.

Skin Type and Sensitivity

Skin type and sensitivity can also affect how prone someone is to getting sunburns while swimming. Sunburn is more likely to occur in people with lighter skin tones, red or blonde hair, and blue or green eyes. People with pre-existing medical conditions, such as lupus or dermatitis, are often advised to avoid sun exposure or use protective clothing and sunscreen.

7 Tips for Preventing Sunburn While Swimming

The 7 Tips for Preventing Sunburn While Swimming

Take steps to prevent sunburn. Swimming is crucial for your skin's health. Here are some tips you should follow to reduce your risk of sunburn:

  • Sunscreen Application: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more 15 minutes before swimming. Every two hours, reapply sunscreen if you're swimming or sweating.
  • Choosing the Right Type of Sunscreen: Look for a water-resistant sunscreen specifically designed for outdoor activities like swimming, surfing, and paddle boarding.
  • Sun-Protective Clothing: Wearing sun-protective clothing, including hats, sunglasses, and long-sleeved shirts, can provide additional protection from the harmful effects of UV rays. Consider purchasing swimwear with an integrated SPF rating.
  • Limiting Sun Exposure: Avoid swimming during peak daylight (10 am to 4 pm) since UV rays are the strongest. Take breaks from swimming and find a shady spot to rest and reapply sunscreen.
  • Staying Hydrated: During swimming, it is highly recommended to drink lots of water to keep your skin hydrated and reduce your risk of heatstroke and dehydration.
  • Seek Shade: If possible, stay in the shade while swimming. This can be achieved by swimming under trees, umbrellas, or other shade forms.
  • Take Breaks: Take frequent breaks from swimming to give your skin a chance to cool down and protect itself from the sun.
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A sunburn can quickly ruin summer fun, but avoiding it is easy. The best way to protect yourself from sunburn while swimming is to wear sunscreen with a high SPF, reapply every two hours, and wear protective clothing such as hats, shirts, and shorts made from fabrics that block UV radiation.

Remember, while swimming is a fantastic way to stay calm during a hot day, the sun's rays have a powerful impact on your skin. Enjoying the sunshine safely and feeling beautiful, healthy, and happy is easy.

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Matt Callard
I am a passionate traveler, as if traveling were my full-time job. I like to change my surroundings and environment, like changing desktop wallpaper. Nature increases the concentration in my writing, which helps brainstorming flow in my blood. I have a cat named Kitana. She is the most desperate about traveling, more than any other cat. How do I know? If I miss any tour in any week, she literally destroys my clothing with her wolverine nails.

I and my cat also participate in extreme activities like surfing, biking, hill tracking, paragliding, boating, etc. She was always there in my accidents, injuries, and stitches. She always sits on my lap when it hurts me most. The funniest part is that she has experienced all my tattoos. She sleeps on my blanket when I go through any painful experience.

My hobbies and lifestyle added many pain and injuries to my life. That is why I have a lot of experience in dealing with different levels of pain and burn. It influenced me to become a pain expert and share primary suggestions to handle any unwanted situations that hurt.


  • Can Sunburn While Swimming Lead to Skin Cancer?

    Repeated and excessive sun exposure, including sunburns while swimming, can increase the risk of skin cancer. Protecting the body against the sun's harmful rays is essential to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.

  • What Are the Risks of Getting Sunburned While Swimming?

    Sunburn can cause pain, redness, and inflammation of the skin. When severe, it can cause blisters, fever, chills, and dehydration. Taking measures to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays while swimming is essential.

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