The summer months are full of sunshine and while that’s usually a positive thing there is a down side. The sun can cause burns and damage from UV radiation. Sunburns are painful and too much exposure to UV rays can put one at risk for skin cancer, according to American Cancer Society. The UV rays from the sun can also cause premature aging. The damage the sun causes to the skin is make clear in this photo of a 69 year truck driver experienced 28 years of sun exposure and UV rays on the left side of his face.
The damaging effects the sun can have on our skin is evident. So how can we protect ourselves from the UV radiation of the sun?
- Avoid sun exposure/Seek shade: the easiest and most surefire way to avoid UV rays.
- Cover skin with clothing: Clothing is a good way to block out the UV radiation and prevent sunburns. Wear a hat to shade the face. Baseball hats protect the face but leave the neck and ears exposed so a hat with a larger brim is recommended.
- Wear Sunscreen: the most obvious solution but there are some technicalities. Make sure the sunscreen has an SPF of at least 30, protects against UVA and UVB rays, and it is applied every few hours (more often if the person is swimming) Keep in mind that sunscreen is not a shield against the sun it is more of a screen and even when applied properly UV rays can still get through. Check the expiration date on your sunscreen before using it.
When applying an SPF 30 sunscreen correctly, you get the equivalent of 1 minute of UVB rays for each 30 minutes you spend in the sun. So, 1 hour in the sun wearing SPF 30 sunscreen is the same as spending 2 minutes totally unprotected.
- Avoid tanning beds: Tanning beds produce the same harmful UVA and UVB rays as the sun. Tanning bed use has been linked with an increased risk of melanoma, especially if it’s started before a person is 30.
Pay extra attention to children as they burn more easily and tend to spend more time outdoors. Remember to reapply sunscreen every few hours on exposed skin. Teach children about the dangers of too much sun exposure and make sunscreen application a habit.
Photo and information courtesy: New England Journal of Medicine