July is UV Safety Month: Five Ways To Protect Yourself From UV Rays
Overexposure to ultraviolet sunlight (UV rays) is believed to be the dominant external factor in a person’s development of skin cancer. To protect yourself from UV rays, you may lower your risk for skin cancer by following these five steps:
- Avoid Direct Sun Exposure: Avoid exposing your skin to direct sunlight during midday (generally from 10am to 4pm). This is the time when UV rays are most intense. Plan your schedule to avoid outdoor activities during these hours. Also, be aware that sand and snow reflect sunlight, so if you’re at the beach or a ski resort, direct sunlight can bombard you from every direction with UV rays.
- Cover Yourself: When out in the sun, keep your skin covered. Wear long sleeves and long pants if possible. Wearing a hat with a 3 to 4 inch brim all around is preferable. This will guard your neck and cheeks from dangerous prolonged exposure. Also note that dry, dark-colored garments offer the best protection.
- Use Sunscreen Properly: You should always use sunscreen when enduring prolonged exposure in the sun. Find a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of at least 15 and read the directions for proper application. The higher the SPF, the higher the protection you will receive against dangerous sunburns. However, sunscreen does not offer “bulletproof” protection, and UV rays can penetrate water, so just because you feel “cool” in the water doesn’t mean you’re protected from sunburn.
- Use Sunglasses That Block UV Rays: Make certain your sunglasses can block UV rays to guard your eyes from serious sun damage. The best constructed sunglasses should have a UV ray absorption rate of 99% to 100%. Never assume that darker lenses equal increased protection. UV rays are blocked by a chemical applied to the lenses.
- Stay Away From Tanning Beds: It is a myth to believe that tanning beds and sunlamps are free of harmful UV rays. They can significantly increase your risk of developing skin cancer in the long-term. Health professionals advise their patients to avoid them.
By implementing these five steps in your daily routine, you can significantly decrease your risk of developing skin cancer, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle that allows for proper exposure to the sun. Another important step in prevention of skin cancer is routine examination by a doctor. If skin cancer is detected early, then your odds of survival are markedly increased.