It’s summertime, meaning most of our days are spent at the beach, the pool, hiking and participating in other outdoor activities.
It also means the sun is shining bright, and it’s the hottest time of the year.
The month of July has been designated as UV Safety Month in order to spread awareness about the importance of skin protection, and to inform people about the dangers of improperly exposing our skin to the sun.
The skin’s main purpose is to protect the body against heat and injuries.
However, many people are not cautious enough when it comes to protecting the skin from heat, and studies have linked skin cancer with overexposure to the sun along with indoor tanning sunlamps.
Overexposure to the sun can also cause aging of the skin, wrinkles and damage to eyesight. It can even weaken the immune system.
This shouldn’t discourage anyone from being active outdoors or spending any time in the sun, but we should all be mindful.
Here are a few simple ways to protect your skin from the sun this summer:
1. Dress appropriately.
When exposed to the sun for a long period of time, wearing protective clothes is important. This includes long-sleeved shirts and pants.
Wearing hats to protect the head and face is also recommended. Sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV rays should be worn to avoid cell damage.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has concluded some of the most common sun-related vision problems include cataracts, macular degeneration and pterygium, which is a growth of the conjunctiva.
2. Head for the shade.
When possible, stay out of the sun. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the peak burning hours are from 10 am and 4 pm.
During these hours, try to stay in the shade. It is vital to always stay protected because the sun can still damage the skin on cloudy days and during the winter. If there is no possible shade, try to create your own with protective clothing.
3. Be cautious of reflective surfaces and high altitudes
Some people don’t think they are getting sunburnt while in the water because the body feels cool.
The sun’s rays actually reflect off the water, sand and even snow, which can increase the chance of sunburn. Since there is less atmosphere to absorb UV radiation, you receive more UV exposure at higher altitudes.
4. Use sunscreen.
This is the most important tip when it comes to keeping your skin protected. Sunscreen tends to be avoided due to laziness or the desire for bronzed skin.
It is recommended to apply broad-spectrum sunscreen to exposed skin 20 minutes prior to exposure.
This variety protects against both ultraviolet A rays that have long wavelengths (which target the deeper layers of the skin), and ultraviolet B rays, which have shorter wavelengths that can reach the outer layer of the skin.
The FDA suggests using a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) value of at least 15.
Due to sweating and swimming, sunscreen must be reapplied throughout the day, about every two hours.
5. Familiarize yourself with the UV index.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) UV Index is a great way to decide how much skin protection is needed when planning outdoor activities.
On a scale of one to 11, the index measures the daily UV ray intensity. Lower UV indexes do not require as much protection as higher UV indexes.
Remember to keep yourself, family and friends educated on the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.
Remind others about the life-long effects sun damage has on the body if they do not take proper precautions. These tips are useful for summer as well as throughout the year.