Making Summertime Living Ideal

June 16, 2021

Sun safety is always in season, especially when the mercury rises and we flock to beaches, playgrounds, splash pads and pools in our Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods, and the great outdoors. But sun safety should be a year-round activity, no matter the weather. Why? Sun exposure can cause sunburn, skin aging (such as skin spots, wrinkles, or “leathery skin”), eye damage and skin cancer, the most common of all cancers. 

Lower your risk for sunburn, skin cancer and early skin aging

Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, even on a cloudy day. People of all skin colors are in danger of this damage. Here are a few ways to reduce your risk:

  • Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.
  • Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun, such as long-sleeve shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brim hats. Sun-protective clothing is now available.
  • Use broad spectrum sunscreens with an SPF value of 15 or higher regularly and as directed. (Broad spectrum sunscreens offer protection against both UVA      and UVB rays, two types of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.) Read the label to ensure you use your sunscreen correctly.
  • Consult a health care professional before applying sunscreen to infants younger than six months.

Sunscreen do’s and don’ts

Sunscreen should be part of your defense against the sun’s harmful burning rays. All sunscreens help protect against sunburn. But only those that are broad spectrum have been shown to also reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by the sun when used as directed with other sun protection measures.

  • Apply sunscreen liberally to all uncovered skin, especially your nose, ears, neck, hands, feet, and lips (but avoid putting it inside your mouth and eyes).
  • Reapply at least every two hours. Apply more often if you’re swimming or sweating. (Read the label for your specific sunscreen. An average-size adult or child needs at least one ounce of sunscreen, about the amount it takes to fill a shot glass, to evenly cover the body.)
  • If your hair is thin, apply sunscreen to the top of your head or wear a hat.
  • No sunscreen completely blocks UV radiation. So other protections are needed, such as protective clothing, sunglasses, and staying in the shade.
  • No sunscreen is waterproof.

Sunscreen is available as lotions, creams, sticks, gels, oils, butters, pastes and sprays. 

Risk factors for harmful effects of UV radiation

People of all skin colors can be at risk for sunburn and other harmful effects of UV radiation, so always protect yourself. Be especially careful if you have:

  • Pale skin
  • Blond, red, or light brown hair
  • Been treated for skin cancer
  • Have a family member who has had skin cancer

If you take medications, ask your health care professional about sun-care precautions. Some medications may increase sun sensitivity. Even on an overcast day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can get through the clouds. Stay in the shade as much as possible.

Eye protection

Sunlight reflecting off sand, water, or even snow, increases exposure to UV radiation and increases your risk of developing eye problems. Certain sunglasses can help protect your eyes.

  • Choose sunglasses with a “100% UV protection” label. These sunglasses provide the most protection against UV rays.
  • Do not mistake dark-tinted sunglasses as having UV protection. The darkness of the lens does not indicate its ability to shield your eyes from UV rays. Many sunglasses with light-colored tints – such as green, amber, red, and gray – can offer the same UV protection as very dark lenses.
  • Check to see if your tinted glasses have UV protection. When you wear tinted glasses, your pupils dilate and can increase exposure of your retinas to UV light. Without UV protection, you are putting yourself at risk to harmful effects associated with solar radiation.
  • Children should wear sunglasses. Toy sunglasses may not have UV protection, so be sure to look for the UV protection label.
  • Consider large, wraparound-style frames, which may provide more UV protection because they cover the entire eye socket.
  • Pricier sunglasses don’t ensure greater UV protection.
  • Even if you wear UV absorbing contact lenses, wear quality sunglasses that offer UV protection.
  • Even when you wear sunglasses, wearing a wide-brim hat and sunscreen can help further protect you from sun exposure.

Source: US Food and Drug Administration website.

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