July is National UV Safety Month
As summer gets into full swing, many of us are excited to welcome the season with pool parties, beach trips, patio barbeques and picnics at the park. It’s during these warm summer months we spend most of our time outdoors with friends and family. Sun exposure is recommended because it’s our primary source for vitamin D—which helps us absorb calcium for stronger, healthier bones; but like with everything else, moderation is key.
July is National Ultraviolet Safety Month, so it’s a great opening for PreCheck to help shine light on the perils of UV rays and spread the message of sun safety. UV radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer in the U.S. It can cause eye damage including cataracts and macular degeneration—the primary cause of vision loss among seniors.
In recent years, doctors and medical experts have emphasized the importance of protecting your skin and the dangers of over sun exposure. We’ve always been told how damaging the sun’s rays are to our skin, and how too much exposure can lead to harmful skin reactions such as sunburn, skin texture changes, premature aging (thick, wrinkled, and leathery skin) and most deadly of all, skin cancer.
Who are Most Susceptible?
There are, unfortunately, certain types who are more prone to sunburns. Individuals, who are fair-skinned, have light colored hair (blond, red, or light brown), have freckles, and have light colored eyes (blue or green). In addition, some medications increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays and some lower or suppress the immune system, which makes your skin more susceptible to sunburns and other sun-induced ailments.
4 Ways to Prevent UV Damage:
- Go for the shade - Avoid or limit sun exposure during the hours where the sun’s UV rays are most intense—between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Wear protective clothing - Wearing long sleeve shirts and pants are ideal. Linens and thin cottons are probably the most comfortable fabrics during the warm summer months—as well as a broad-brimmed hat that shades the face, ears, and neck.
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen - Generously applying water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) value of at least 15 or higher to shield against sun-induced skin problems. The “broad spectrum” variety protects against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Tip: Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming and sweating, even if it’s labeled “water-resistant”.
- Pick up those stylish sunglasses - Effective sunglasses should block glare and 99 to 100% of UV rays and have a wraparound shape to protect the eyes from all angles.
It’s recommended to routinely check your skin for any changes. Birthmarks, new moles and marks, especially, should be consistently examined for any alterations in size, shape and color or if they look and feel differently from other moles and marks on your body. This includes new red or darker-colored, flaky patches that may be a little raised, a new flesh-colored firm bump or a sore that doesn’t heal.
I’m Sunburned, Now What?
- Apply a cold compress to the affected area(s)
- Take aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol) immediately after to relieve the sunburn discomfort and inflammation
- Apply a cooling gel or ointment containing aloe vera to the sunburned area(s)
- Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol, which will dehydrate the skin
- Avoid further sun exposure until the discomfort lessens
Not all sunburns are immediately visible. They can appear from one to six hours after sun exposure and reach its peak in 24 hours. I hope you found this article resourceful as you plan your agenda this summer. Understanding the harmful effects of UV rays will help you recognize which precautions you should consider while spending time outdoors. Click here for more information or for ways you may get involved.