As the planet heats up from a very cold winter, the sun, once an ally, can quickly become the enemy. While sun protection is important year-round, late-springs and early-summer’s warmer weather means more time spent outside, exposing yourself to the sun’s rays.
Any time you’re in the sun, your skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light (or invisible waves of radiation generated by the sun). Yes, sunlight tans the skin and causes vitamin D production, but many fail to realize the harmful effects of UV exposure. When UV penetrates the skin, they can damage the DNA inside the skin cells. Our bodies can usually repair the damage, but when it can’t, cancerous cells begin to develop.
Here are some measures you can take to protect yourself from the sun:
Use sunscreen/sunblock. Sunscreen contains chemicals that will absorb harmful UV rays before they can damage your skin. In order to get the maximum benefit, sunscreens should be applied 30 minutes before exposure to give these chemicals enough time to soak into the skin and form a protective layer.
Sunblocks on the other hand are made with particles that will block UV rays from actually reaching the skin and start to work as soon as you apply them.
Don’t forget your lips! One place that many people may forget to protect is their lips. It is just as easy for lips to burn as it is for other areas of skin. Lip balms with SPF 15 or higher applied liberally and often will help guard against burning. An added benefit of using lip balms is the moisturizing effect, preventing chapping and dryness.
Your clothes matter. Protective clothing is one of the most effective ways to guard against the sun. The more skin you have covered by clothing, the greater your protection from the sun’s UV rays. Clothing provides continuous protection, unlike sunscreen which must be reapplied every two hours.
Clothing with a tighter weave will provide the most protection. Hats are also a great accessory to have for sun protection. While almost any hat will provide some amount of coverage, the best is a hat that has a wide brim all the way around in order to shade your head, ears, face, eyes, and neck.
Eyes need protection too! UV rays are also dangerous to unprotected eyes. Wearing protective eyewear can help prevent cataracts, macular degeneration, and retinal damage.
Glasses should have both UVA and UVB protection. Glasses that have wraparound frames will provide the most protection since enough UV rays can still enter around regular frames to damage the eyes.
Since we receive over half of our lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18, don’t forget to make sure children are protected from the sun’s rays. If a child were to wear sunscreen every day, scientists estimate their risk of developing skin cancer could be reduced by as much as 70 percent!
Guard against sun damage now and help protect yourself from a variety of health concerns in the future.
Stay Safe. Know Before™.
The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team