The sunshine has returned to us! After a long, dreary, snowy winter, it seems as though spring may be arriving to our area. We thought this would be a good opportunity to remind you about sun safety.
- Prevention is the key. Applying a broad-spectrum (which covers both UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen at least 15-20 minutes BEFORE going outside is the most important step you can take in preventing sunburn.
- A higher SPF does not mean that you can stay outside longer. Regardless of the sun protection factor (SPF) you choose, you should reapply every 2 hours, and more frequently if sweating or swimming. Most experts agree that SPF 15-30 is fine for most people, if applied properly.
- Sunscreen should cover all exposed areas – and it is easy to forget a few spots. Most commonly missed areas include the upper part of the ear, tops of the feet (since most people wear sandals in warmer weather), and the backs of the knees.
- Sunscreen should be applied EVERY time you are going to be outdoors – even on cloudy days, the UV rays can penetrate the clouds and cause a burn. Sun rays can also reflect up from water, sand, and concrete.
- People with very sensitive or fair skin should consider wearing clothing that has an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating, meaning that the clothing fibers block some of the sun’s rays as well.
- If possible, avoid scheduling activities from 10:00am to 4:00pm, when the sun is at its most intense.
- Eye protection is important as well. Sunglasses with UV protection should be worn when outside.
Sunscreen not only prevents sunburn, but also prevents the UV rays’ harmful effect on skin. Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma (three major types of skin cancer) are known to be connected to UV light exposure. The risk of developing these types of cancers only increases with more exposure. Tanning beds produce much more intense radiation (about 10-15 times more intense than sunlight) and cause more skin damage in a shorter amount of time; they are not recommended for use by anyone, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports legislation to prohibit their use by people under the age of 18.
Make sure to stay safe outdoors this summer!