July is UV Safety Month
Once again, winter has faded into spring and spring has burst into summer. Along comes the invincible summer sun—your skin’s arch-enemy, particularly if you exercise outdoors. There are precautions that you should take to reduce your amount of exposure to UV.
- Limit direct sun exposure during midday. Ultraviolet rays are most intense between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM. Limit outdoor activities during these times.
- Cover up. Wear clothing to protect as much skin as possible. Dark colors provide more protection than light colors and a tightly woven fabric provides greater protection than loosely woven clothing.
- Wear a hat. A hat with at least a 2 to 3-inch brim all around is ideal because it protects areas often exposed to the sun, such as the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp.
- Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
- Experts recommend products with an SPF of at least 15. An SPF 4 blocks out 75% of the burning UV rays while an SPF 15 blocks out 93% of the burning UV rays.
- Wear sunglasses that block UV rays.The ideal sunglasses should block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB radiation. Check the label to be sure they do.
- Avoid sunlamps and tanning booths. Many people believe that the UV rays of tanning beds are harmless, but tanning lamps emit UVA and frequently emit UVB also. Both cause skin damage, and contribute to skin cancers.
- Check your skin regularly.Examine your skin after a shower or bath. Signs to look for are changes in size, texture, shape, and color of blemishes or a sore that does not heal. If you find any changes, see your doctor or health care provider.
When planning your outdoor activities, you can decide how much sun protection you need by checking the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) UV index, which measures the daily intensity of UV rays from the sun on a scale of 1 to 11. A low UV index requires minimal protection, whereas a high UV index requires maximum protection.
Keep in mind you can fall victim to sun damage on a cloudy day and in the winter, so dress accordingly all year round.
Wear sunscreen every day if you will be outside for more than 20 minutes, even when it’s cloudy.
- Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors, and reapplied every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
- Even if a sunscreen is labeled as “waterproof,” it must be reapplied throughout the day.
- Don’t skimp: One ounce—enough to fill a shot glass—is considered the amount needed to properly cover exposed skin.
- When choosing a sunscreen, look for one with an SPF of 15 or higher that provides broad-spectrum coverage against all ultraviolet light wavelengths.
- Throw out old bottles of sunscreen, which can lose strength after three years.
Source: American Academy of Dermatology