As the summer season heats up and COVID-19 mandates ease, people can’t help but gear up for outdoor activities, beach vacations, and all-day fairs, festivals, and concerts. Unfortunately, this is where the potential for sun exposure is at its greatest.
Sunlight and artificial sources such as tanning beds are direct sources of UV Radiation. While it has benefits for some people, such as Vitamin D, it can also pose many health risks such as skin damage. Short-term exposure comes from sunburn, while premature aging and skin cancer are side effects of prolonged UV exposure.
What Can You Do?
Here are five ways you can protect your skin from harmful UV rays:
- Wear Protective Coverings
Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs. Make sure you wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Sunglasses with 100% UV protection on the label or a UV400 rating provide an optimal defense. Remember, dark lenses or pricey sunglasses don’t always offer the highest form of protection – look for the label. Wear a wide brim hat to protect your face, ears, and neck.
- Wear Sunscreen
Use broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher. Broad-spectrum sunscreens offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays, two types of sun radiation. Be sure to reapply every two hours, especially if you are swimming or exercising. Adults and children need to apply enough sunscreen for the entire body, or the equivalent of a shot glass.
- Stay in the Shade
Avoid the sun during peak hours, especially between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm when the sun’s rays are most intense. You can shade yourself with a tree, hat, umbrella, canopy, or roof, but continue to wear sunscreen as UV exposure is still possible in the shade.
- Avoid Indoor Tanning
You may have heard the expression, “there is no such thing as a safe tan.” The American Academy of Dermatology Association states, “Science tells us that there’s no such thing as a safe tanning bed, tanning booth, or sun lamp. Just one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of developing skin cancer (melanoma by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 67%, and basal cell carcinoma by 29%).” Early exposure to tanning beds can significantly increase your risk of melanoma.
- Check Your Drug Interactions
Certain medications can cause photosensitivity or make you more vulnerable to the sun. In turn, they can also weaken their strength. Antibiotics, antifungals, antihistamines, cholesterol drugs, diuretics, anti-inflammatories, oral contraceptives, blood pressure medication are among the list of sun-sensitive drugs. Be sure to read your prescription labels and consult with your physician on any sun interactions.
The American Cancer Society offers extended resources on sun safety, skin protection, self-skin exams, and types of skin cancer. For more skin cancer prevention stories, click here.
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