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UV Safety Awareness Tips (Spoiler Alert: Wear Sunscreen!)
UV Safety Awareness

Summer is here, and so is UV Safety Awareness Month! Though our initial thought is to head outdoors and soak up the sun, damage to the skin from exposure to ultraviolet rays is a huge concern due to increased risk for skin cancer and melanoma. And it’s important to remember this exposure occurs whether it is cloudy or sunny, as the sun is always out in the daytime.

There are two types of ultraviolet rays our sun emits: UVA (ultraviolet-A: long wave) and UVB (ultraviolet-B: short wave). Since both penetrate the atmosphere their effects can damage the skin’s cellular DNA. And excessive UV radiation produces genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization have identified UV as a proven human carcinogen which is now considered the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. UV radiation also plays an important role in melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

So today, I’d like to devote my blog post to education around UV safety awareness. Let’s start with some great ways to limit sun damage…

  • Limit exposure during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
  • Wear protective clothing and wide brim hats.
  • Avoid light clothing.
  • And, of course, use sunscreen!


Selecting a Sunscreen
To protect from the two types of UV rays, there are two types of sunscreen – UVA and UVB. It is best to find a sunscreen that offers "broad spectrum” protection from both with an SPF of at least 15 or 30. Sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide also protect against UVA and UVB. When applying, make sure to do so abundantly and 20 to 30 minutes before going outside if possible to allow time for the sunscreen to soak in and begin working. Also, make sure to re-apply every two hours, especially during swimming, even if the sunscreen claims to be “water-resistant.”

Testing Your Sunscreen
Not everyone can use sunscreen. For some people, sunscreens containing PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) can heighten the risk of suffering from sunburn. Also, some ingredients in sunscreens may increase the risk of a skin reaction for certain people. It is always best to test your sunscreen before using it by applying a small amount to a small, sun-exposed region of your body and observing if there is a skin reaction.

Protecting Babies from the Sun
Babies six-months old or younger should not have sunscreen applied to their skin. It is possible their bodies will not be able to tolerate the chemicals in sunscreen. It is always best to keep them out of the sun entirely. Everyone over the age of six months should use sunscreen unless their doctor has recommended they protect their skin in other ways.

Have fun this summer, but remember you can always reduce your risk by following these tips and remaining informed about UV safety awareness!

What are you doing to protect yourself from the sun? Please share in the comment section below.

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