Summer is here and we’re ready to get outside and enjoy the sunshine!
But not the burn.
While many of us are anxious to get “a little color” this summer, that little bit of color can mean big problems for your skin.
Health Risks Of Sun Exposure
The cumulative damage caused by exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays (UV) can lead to premature skin aging, damage the eyes and surrounding skin, and raise your risk of skin cancer.
Signs of premature skin aging include wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, and brown spots. The sun’s rays can damage your eyes, leading to vision loss and conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and eyelid cancer.
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, about 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers and about 86% of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Those using tanning bed are at even higher risk. People who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent!
Enjoy The Sun, But Not The Burn
Practicing proper and consistent sun safe habits are essential to your long-term health. Unfortunately, with so much conflicting information and opinions on sun exposure, many of us simply don’t make sun protection a priority.
How can we enjoy being outdoors without being scared of the sun?
Here are some sun safe habits recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation for everyone!
Use A Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen EVERY DAY:
Broad-spectrum sunscreens are products that help prevent both UVA and UVB rays from reaching the skin. Choose one with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. If you’re spending an extended period of time outdoors, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Apply about 2 tablespoons of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Remember to reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
Clothing can protect our skin by absorbing or blocking much of the sun’s harmful UV radiation. Choose long-sleeved shirts and long pants to cover the most skin. You can also wear UPF clothing. UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, and indicates what fraction of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the fabric. For example, clothing with a UPF of 50 only allows 1/50th of the sun’s UV radiation to reach the skin.
And don’t forget your hat! Hats can block as much as half of all UVB rays from your eyes and eyelids. Be sure to choose a hat with at least a 3-inch brim.
Seek The Shade:
Shade your eyes with sunglasses year-round when you’re out in the sun. Choose sunglasses that block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB rays.
Decrease your sun exposure by seeking the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM, when sunlight is the most intense. If you’re out during that time, use a beach umbrella or find a shady spot under a tree.
With good sun safe habits, practiced consistently, you can minimize your health risks AND enjoy your time outdoors year round.
What is your top sun safe habit? We’d love to hear from you!
For more information on sun protection for you and your family, visit The Skin Cancer Foundation.