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Wednesday May 29, 2024

  SunSafe Tips
SunSafe Tips - Protect yourself from the Sun

Cover Up - Wear Protective Clothes
Wear a wide brimmed cap or a "shade" cap (baseball type cap with material draping down). Wear proper sun protection for your eyes. Because our eyes are so sensitive, sunglasses need to be UV rated to block 99-100% of UV rays to be effective. Glasses with large wrap around frames protect your eyes from all angles. UV rated glasses are also available in children's sizes and are available at many optical stores. Wear clothing that is lightweight, loose fitting and made of tightly woven fabric. Remember, if you can see light through the fabric, so can the sun. For example, a cotton T-shirt has a UPF rating of 5 to 8. To be effective, the fabric should have a UPF rating of at least 30 or above. Also, wet clothing allows the sun's rays to pass through more easily.

Use Sunscreen Daily
Wear sunscreen with labels stating "sunscreen" or "sunblock". When applied correctly, these lotions absorb, reflect or scatter some of the sun's rays. Initially it was believed that only UVB rays were damaging to skin, however more recent studies indicate that both UVA and UVB radiation contribute to skin cancer. Therefore, only the newly-developed "broad-spectrum" products with SPF of at least 15 are recommended for protection against both types of UV radiation. These broad-spectrum sunscreens should be applied liberally 15-30 minutes before going outdoors (including lips, nose, ears, neck, hands, feet and eyelids) and reapplied every few hours thereafter, especially after exercise or swimming.

Seek Shade
Obviously, staying inside is the best way to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays but not very realistic. Minimize your exposure and still enjoy the outdoors by avoiding the sun between the hours of 10 and 3p.m. when the sun's ultraviolet rays are the strongest. Try to schedule outdoor activities for early morning or late afternoon when the UV rays are weaker. A good rule to follow: if your shadow is shorter than you, stay out of the sun. The shorter the shadow, the stronger the sun. Stay out of the sun when the UV index is high in your area. Check the UV index every day.

Skin cancer rates are increasing at an alarming rate worldwide. The ozone layer plays an important role in protecting against the sun's harmful rays and artificial chemicals are causing it to deteriorate. There is an obvious correlation between the diminished ozone layer and rising skin cancer rates. The condition of the ozone layer varies and is influenced by several factors: the seasons, latitude and changing weather patterns to name a few. Melanoma incidence for those living near the equator, in regions in New Zealand, Australia and Scotland more than doubled over the past 8 years. In the United States, Arizona has the highest incidence of skin cancer.

Protect Children from the Sun
One bad sunburn can double a child's risk of contracting skin cancer later in life. Keep them covered up with clothing, hats and sunglasses, in the shade and apply sunscreen daily to children over 6 months. Infants are not sufficiently developed to metabolize sunscreen chemicals safely. It is recommended that sunscreen not be used on babies less than 6 months old. Specific questions about using sunscreen on babies should be directed to your pediatrician.