14 Jul How to Have a Healthy, Sun-Safe Summer
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy barbeques, picnics, swimming and other outdoor activities with family and friends. To stay safe in the sun, be sure to protect your skin from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays as much as possible.
While UV rays are the number one cause of skin cancer, too much exposure to the sun can also cause sunburn, eye damage and premature aging. However, following a few simple tips provided by the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) can help you lower your risk and enjoy a healthy summer.
- When you are out in the sun, cover up with clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. Also, protect your eyes with sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UV light.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Be sure to reapply at least every two hours, and after swimming or sweating.
- Limit your direct exposure to the sun by spending time in the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest.
- Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps, as both can cause serious long-term skin damage and contribute to skin cancer.
While some have raised concerns about the safety of the ingredients found in some sunscreen, cancer experts have concluded that the potential risk of not using the product far outweighs the risk of using it. When purchasing a sunscreen, be sure to read the label first. All products must comply with these guidelines provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
- Sunscreens with a broad-spectrum protection label must protect against both UVA and UVB rays. While UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn, UVA rays contribute to skin cancer and premature wrinkles. Products that aren’t broad-spectrum must carry a warning that they protect against sunburn only, and not against skin cancer or aging.
- No sunscreen protects you completely. However, products with an SPF of at least 30 filter out about
97 percent of UVB rays. Higher numbers do not mean more protection, as the higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes. The FDA also requires sunscreen with an SPF below 15 to carry a warning that it only protects against sunburn, and not against skin cancer or aging.
- Water resistant does not mean waterproof, and manufacturers are prohibited from making this claim. If a product’s front label claims it is water resistant, it must specify whether it lasts for 40 or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating.
More than one million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year. While it is natural to enjoy fun in the sun, be sure to take preventative measures to protect your health. In addition, if you notice any blemishes or lesions on your skin, have them checked as soon as possible by a dermatologist. Early detection can prevent skin cancer from becoming life-threatening.