July is UV Safety month, so that means it’s time to raise awareness about skin cancer and different ways to be safe this summer. Approximately 1 out of 5 Americans may develop skin cancer within their lifetime and 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers are from exposure to UV radiation. UV radiation can also cause eye problems, weakened immune system, wrinkles, and saggy blotchy skin.
10 Steps to Safeguard Your Skin
- Wear long sleeves and pants when outside in the day. Even though this summer is going to be brutally hot, proper clothing can help the body stay cool and prevent UV rays from penetrating the skin.
- Wear hats and UV-resistant sunglasses. Your head and eyes need to be protected from the sun, even when it’s cloudy or in the winter. 80% of UV rays can pass through clouds and reflect in snow.
- When driving use SPF 30 sunscreen on the left side. Windows do not block UVA rays, so when driving make sure to apply sunscreen to the left arm, hand, neck, face, and any exposed areas.
- Use Broad Spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen. Broad Spectrum products protect against UVB and UVA rays. Regular sunscreens do not block UVA rays, which can cause leathery skin, age spots, and a deadly skin cancer called melanoma, which kills one person every hour in the US.
- Apply an ounce of sunscreen every two hours when exposed to the sun. If you cannot avoid the sun, then ample amount of sunscreen should be applied throughout the day. Remember: the higher the SPF number, the higher the protection.
- Stay out of the sun between 10am and 4pm. According to CDC and WHO, these are the peak hours when UV rays are the strongest, so seek shade when possible. Sunburns increase the risk of developing skin cancer.
- Avoid reflective surfaces. Snow, sand, water, and bright surfaces reflect UV rays and can double the exposure. Beach umbrellas may not protect UV rays that are reflected off the sand. And remember just because you are cool in the water, does not mean you are protected from the sun.
- Do not use tanning beds. Tanning beds emit UV rays that can increase your chance of developing age spots or skin cancer. In fact, just one tanning session increases chances of developing melanoma by 20 percent. Even though it is nice to look tan, tanning in a bed or out on the sand should be avoided. Airbrush tanning could be a safe way to achieve that golden look.
- Check the UV index in your area the day before. The UV index forecast, which can be found here: http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvindex.html, can tell you how dangerous the UV radiation is in your area and what precautions to take.
- Check skin monthly. New or changing moles and freckles, skin patches, and skin redness can mean many things, including skin cancer. Make sure to consult a doctor right away if any of these develop on your skin.