Each year, August is observed as Summer Sun Safety Month. This month encourages you to enjoy the summer days while taking precautions to avoid overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The UV rays that can affect skin include UVA rays and UVB rays. The dangers from UV exposure are greater during summer days, when you tend to spend more time in the sun.
Spending time outdoors can reduce stress and help you get your daily dose of vitamin D, but too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure can have damaging effects on the skin and can cause skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 5 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the United States. Overexposure to the UV rays can cause premature aging of the skin and signs of sun damage such as wrinkles, liver spots and more. It can weaken the immune system and can also cause eye problems such as the cornea to become inflamed or burned.
Here are four tips to reduce UV exposure during summer
- Stay in shade, at least from 10 am – 4 pm. If you go outside, wear a darker hat as it may offer more UV protection. Avoid wearing straw hats with holes, as UV rays can pass through them.
- Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts, when you’re outside, and even when you’re in the shade. Wearing darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors.
- Before going outdoors, apply a thick layer of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher on all exposed skin. The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen will provide against UVB rays.
- Wear sunglasses. Choose wrap-around glasses to block UV rays and protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce risk of cataracts.
If you notice any skin changes, redness or allergies, consult a doctor or dermatologist.
The strength of the sun’s UV rays reaching the ground depend on a number of factors such as time of day, season of the year, distance from the equator (latitude), cloud cover and more. UV rays from artificial sources like tanning beds can also cause sunburn.
Celebrate Summer Sun Safety Month – encourage your family members and friends to wear hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen when they step outside. Also remind them that protection from UV rays is important all the year round, not just during the summer.