The US observes Summer Sun Safety Month in August each year. Sun Safety Month raises awareness about protecting your and your family’s skin from the sun’s UV rays when summer is in full swing.
Understanding the Sun’s Rays
The sun emits three types of ultraviolet radiation, of which two, UVA and UVB, reach the Earth’s surface. UVA rays have an extended wavelength and can burn deep into the skin, leading to wrinkling, premature aging, and skin cancer.UVB rays have a shorter wavelength and primarily affect the top layer of the skin, where it causes sunburn and contributes to a person’s overall risk of skin cancer. Both types of rays harm the skin and can cause damage even on cloudy days.The third type of UV light emitted by the sun is UVC. Earth’s ozone layer blocks most UVC rays. However, UVC radiation can affect the skin through artificial sources such as tanning beds and sunlamps.
Sun Safety Tips
The US sun safety month focuses on providing sun safety tips during summer that people can implement during the rest of the year. These tips include the following:
Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the sun’s rays burn at their brightest. During these hours, you and your family should seek shade where possible. If you spend lots of time at the beach, use an umbrella to protect your skin from the sun. Shade provides an excellent defense against direct UV exposure.
Wear Long-Sleeved Protective Clothing
Cover your skin with loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing such as lightweight pants and shirts. Dark-colored clothing offers better protection.
Always Apply Sunscreen
Select a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor or SPF of 30 or higher. Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed skin, including the face, neck, ears, the back of the hands, and feet. It is essential to reapply sunscreen frequently when swimming or if a hot day causes excessive sweating.
Use a Lip Balm with SPF
Ensure you and your family apply a protective lip balm containing an SPF of 30 or higher to protect lips from the sun.
Sunglasses provide helpful protection against UV radiation. Make sure to choose sunglasses that completely block UVA and UVB rays. You can identify these sunglasses by their UV400 labels.
Prolonged sun exposure may lead to dehydration, which raises the risk of heat-related illnesses. Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated when spending time outdoors.
Sunburn and Skin Cancer
Sunburn is the most common symptom of overexposure to the sun. It occurs when UV radiation damages skin cells, leading to inflammation, redness, and pain. If you get repeatedly sunburned, you increase your risk of developing skin cancer, including the most dangerous form, melanoma.Skin cancer is still the most common type of cancer in America, with nearly 5 million cases diagnosed annually. While sun exposure can lead to all types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most aggressive and can metastasize to internal organs if not detected and treated early.
Promoting Sun Safety Among Children
Research suggests that severe sunburns during childhood can significantly increase the risk of skin cancer later in life. Sun safety month in the US impresses the following tips to ensure children’s skin is protected:· Apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 on all exposed skin.· Dress children in protective clothing.· Limit their sun exposure.· Teach children about sun safety.
The Bottom Line
Sun safety month highlights the significance of protecting our skin against the sun. Prioritizing sun safety promotes healthier skin and contributes to long-term well-being. For more information, contact Complete Family Dermatology at (402) 423-1111.