Short or Long Sleeves?

Available from the NSMTA

In sunny and hot summer weather, is it better to wear short sleeve or long sleeve shirts?  There are differences of opinion.

Fabric For Sure

For me, regardless of the length of the sleeve, the fabric needs to be not cotton, but some form of “Dri-Fit”, wick-away synthetic.  Otherwise, the shirt becomes a heavy, wet weight you have to carry around the court.

And in the summer sun, I also recommend wearing pure white – or at least a light colored shirt (the other day, I wore a fluorescent yellow shirt; and a similarly colored butterfly tried to mate with me!).  And in the cool weather, the dark colors will help keep you warm by absorbing the sunlight.

Pros and Cons

While the short sleeved shirt is much lighter and less cumbersome (especially when soaked), the long sleeve provides protection.  According to retired dermatologist Michael Fenster, “There is no question that wearing long sleeves provides much greater protection against skin cancer, particularly if the shirt is one of the newer high SPF factor shirts.  Some clothing provides only minimal sun protection, particularly when wet, but the newer high SPF factor shirts provide excellent protection.”

“Fabric does matter, as well, and the wick away fabrics are better than cotton because they allow for greater evaporation and therefore less heat retention.  Light colored fabrics, especially white, absorb much less heat than dark colored fabrics.”

Using Sun Block

Of course, players should also remember to use 30+ Sun Block on other exposed skin areas.  And when wearing long sleeves, don’t forget to cover the backs of the hands.

How about YOU … are you a short or long sleever?

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15 thoughts on “Short or Long Sleeves?

  1. As to long of short sleeves, I agree with your analysis. As to sun block, most
    dermatologists recommend a product with ZINC. Blue Lizard has zinc and
    Banana Boat has a zinc content. Look at the ingredients.

    Ron, thanks for the tip. George

  2. There are two types of sunscreens – physical blockers and chemical suncreens. For many years all we had were the physical blockers, the best known being zinc oxide. It is a very effective sunblock, but in it’s paste form it made us all look like ghosts. Development of chemical sunscreens was a huge step forward, but they come at a cost. The chemicals in these sunscreens, PABA and oxybenzone, can destroy coral reefs and they are actually prohibited in Hawaii and many other tropical locations.
    When choosing a sunscreen, or sunblock, it is important to read the ingredient label. Many of them contain a lot of plant based additives, which don’t add to the effectiveness of the sunscreen, but have a propensity to cause allergic reactions on the skin. The old adage, KISS, comes into play here.
    The main point here is to be sure to use whatever sunscreen you choose on all exposed parts of the body and to reapply it after swimming or heavy sweating, even if it says it is water resistant.

    Doctor Michael, great info! Thanks. George

  3. i only wear long sleeves these days. and now use neutrogena sunscreen always! and hats and sunglasses.
    of course, 25 years ago, I didnt even wear a hat (i wanted to get tan). ugh

    Joe, i think we all have gotten a little smarter (at least on this subject!). thanks, george

  4. I’ve always worn long sleeves since my melanoma, but lately have started using short sleeves along with uv protected “arm sleeves”, combining the protection of long sleeves with the lighter less cumbersome aspects of short sleeves

    Ted. and a friend down here has been wearing “leg sleeves” too! thanks, george

  5. Long sleeve white shirts! It’s a no-brainer.
    Skin cancer isn’t something you want.

    John, Amen! george

  6. OK…after reading these comments, I’m sold….am ordering long-sleeved white shirts today.
    Thanks, guys.

    John, glad to be of service! george

  7. After three Mohs procedures for different types of skin cancer, I now wear long-sleeved white microfiber shirts in summer unless it’s unbearably hot (then short sleeves and LOTS of sunscreen). I forgo the expensive logos and buy them online from Hanes for ~$10 each []. One downside of microfiber gear is that it absorbs body odor more than cotton. An occasional pre-soak in baking soda helps with that [].

    Joe, great housekeeping advice! A mutual friend of ours just emailed me about the “smell problem”! thanks, george

  8. My selection of shirts are definitely the synthetic “wick-dry” variety in white and light colored fabrics. I choose to wear short sleeves
    in hot summer weather to feel cooler and allow my arms to perspire freely without restrictions. I favor using a SPF 50 sunscreen in lotion formulation compared to the spray on variety because I feel I have more control in applying it where needed on exposed skin.
    Usually sunscreen products I buy are sweat and water resistant for up to 90 minutes. I always carry a bottle in my bag in case I need to reapply after toweling off excess sweat. Wearing a cap or wide-brimmed hat to protect the head is a must for UV protection. I also never neglect to get an annual skin checkup with my dermatologist. Skin protection should be a daily routine, especially being out in the sun for any length of time.

    Glenn, the annual check with a dermatologist is a great reminder for all! thanks, george

  9. I could not let this one go without commenting. I have almost always worn black cut off shirts, love the heat, but also load up on sunscreen. Even though I’m a redhead, no skin problems. Also wear the cut off in honor of my best friend whom I lost while we were in Vietnam. I always chastised him for wearing them in the heat. Plus as I evolve into Darth Vader, with all my AI knees and hip, I just feel at home in all black!

    Gary, May the Force be with you! Thanks. George

  10. Great subject, George. I sweat like a pig and typically go through six shirts per outing, and *boy* do they stink. I’ll be checking that website. 🙂 So, that weight issue is overriding for me. BTW, the wet grip issue is solved via golf rain glove – the cheaper the better. And, they come in pairs and the left hand glove can work turned inside out. 🙂

    I may be way off on this, but I wonder how critical sunblock is for folks our age. I know that radiation is “cumulative”, but I’m thinking that the lesions I’ve grown to date stem from sun exposure many decades ago. Had numerous basal cell carcinomas (carcinomae?) removed from my face for a period of time, which I’d chalked up to my swimming pool days growing up. Since then, every time I run to the dermatologist with what looks for all the world like a melanoma (to me), each has turned out to be a seborrheic keratosis – which doesn’t even require removal. I consider them free tattoos. Anyway, with the few years that I have remaining for outdoor activities, I wonder how valuable sunblock actually is.

    I *have* learned to use zinc oxide (I have many different colors in tubes) on my nose and, especially, my lower lip. Yet, another practically free tattoo substitute. These are for pain prevention rather than any long term sequellae. And, I’ll keep running to the dermatologists as new lesions appear. I have a pretty good idea what to look for. Happy to be set straight by former tournament doubles partner, Dr. Fenster. 🙂

    Kevin, for me — at any age — better safe than melanoma! thanks, george

  11. Kevin, you are correct in that the effects of UV radiation (sunlight) are accumulative, with every exposure adding to previous exposures until a tipping point is reached. The tipping point varies from individual to individual depending on many factors including skin color and heredity.
    What is not commonly know, even by many physicians, is that UV radiation affects the immune system and may actually precipitate some internal cancers with enough exposure.
    I recommend that sunscreen be applied whenever one is outdoors, on all parts of the exposed body to diminish the rate of skin cancer, some types of which can be life threatening. This should be a lifelong habit.

    Doc, Thanks, george

  12. I wear a lot of long sleeve tennis shirts in the Winter months here in Naples, but tend to wear short sleeve tee shirts in these hot & humid summer months….but after reading all these comments, it may be time to go back to those long sleeves. Thx. Scoot

    Scoot, i will check out your wardrobe on Monday! george

  13. Very interesting and informative. Thanks to you guys for sharing . It’s time to go shopping for long sleeves

  14. Dang. That sent me straight to Mr. Google. First article that popped up was a *really* long one, but the source looks pretty good. Glad I read the whole thing. I have a whole new perspective on UVB. Looks like things may not always be as they seem. . . It *does* say that it’ll take decades of interventional studies to really get to the bottom of it. But, in the meantime, I’m gonna keep gettin me some sun, based on what I read in the article. 🙂

  15. If anyone feels that the benefits of unprotected sunlight exposure outweigh the risks they are in for a rude awakening.
    In addition to the previously mentioned skin cancer production, exposure to unprotected UV radiation from the sun results in premature aging of the skin as well as a detrimental effect on wound healing. Sunlight exposure is the predominant factor in creating wrinkling of the skin and age marks (solar lentigos), so the appearance of the skin is beyond one’s physical years.
    It is true that Vitamin D is produced by UV exposure, however, Vitamin D is present in many foods and supplements are readily available at any pharmacy.
    As for me, I will get all my outdoor activities, but with appropriate clothing and sunscreen protection.

    Doc, great advice! thanks, george

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