You Have Skin in the Game: UV Safety Awareness Month

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You can still love the sun, but reduce your chances of developing skin cancer. We’ve put together a great list of tips to protect yourself against UV radiation.

July is Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Awareness Month, offering a great reminder in these warmer months to take care of our eyes and skin. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation – through sunlight – is a primary risk factor for skin cancer, the most common type of cancer. UV light is not discernible by the human eye, but it can be felt through the skin. 

UV radiation is a proven cause of Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma. When detected early, these are almost always curable. Sunburn caused by UV exposure, on the other hand, contributes to melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Sun damage is cumulative and increases your skin cancer risk over time. 

You can easily reduce your likelihood of developing skin cancer by protecting yourself against UV radiation. While fair skin shows sunburn more easily, sun damage caused by both UVA and UVB occurs to all skin types. UV is an equal opportunity offender when it comes to skin damage. 

Reducing Your Risk with Sun Protection 

Generally speaking, the safest way to keep ourselves safe from the sun is to stay indoors and in the shade when the sun is at its peak – between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sun exposure also occurs before and after peak hours but is less intense and easier to protect against outside peak exposure times.

When in the sun, and especially during peak times, protect yourself from both UVA and UVB rays in the following ways: 

  • Make a habit of covering your skin or using an effective sunscreen on your face, arms, hand (anything uncovered) at all times.
    Did you know that most car windows (and office windows) allow UVA rays to pass through? While this does not cause burn, it will cause tanning and add to the cumulative damage to your skin.

  • Wear UV protective clothing whenever possible. 

  • Wear sunglasses with UV eye protection and polarization to neutralize glare. 

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat that protects both your face and the back of your neck. 

  • Do not use tanning beds.
    There is no such thing as a safe or healthy tan. 

  • Cover up babies and small children.
    Do not use sunscreen on infants less than six months old.

  • Buy the type of sunscreen you are most likely to use.
    You can choose a cream, a stick, or a spray-on.

  • Establish a habit of applying your sunscreen every morning, like brushing your teeth.
    That way you are protected every day and not only when you’re spending dedicated time outdoors. 

  • Use a minimum SPF of 30.
    SPF stands for sun protection factor. The number tells you how long the sun’s UVB rays will take to burn your skin compared to the amount of time without sunscreen. For example, if you use an SPF 30 product, it will take 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen.

  • Check that your sunscreen also provides “broad spectrum” protection.
    This means it will protect you from UVA rays, which do not penetrate deep enough to burn the skin but cumulatively damage the skin over time.

  • Use sunscreen even when in the water, and be sure your sunscreen is water-resistant.
    Pay attention to how long it resists water and reapply as needed.

  • Follow sunscreen application instructions carefully, and reapply as needed.
    Reapply sunscreen after being in the water, working up a sweat, or at least every 2 hours.

Want to know more? Check out these great resources for information on the damage caused by ultraviolet radiation and how to protect our skin and health from it: 

Anna Nussio, Operations Manager I

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