July is UV Safety Month. With the days getting longer and the weather warming up, we find ourselves outside more often. Although being outside in the sun has its benefits, it is important to keep yourself safe while doing so. UV stands for Ultraviolet. The sun emits UV radiation which is a type of non-ionizing radiation that is responsible for the production of Vitamin D, but it also has some health risks associated with it. Amra Nasir, MD, a physician with Adventist HealthCare Urgent Care, discusses ways to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays this summer.
Overexposure to UV radiation can cause:
- Premature skin aging
- Skin sensitivity
- Skin cancer
There are two types of UV radiation rays, UVB and UVA. UVB causes sunburn and can contribute to skin cancer, while UVA causes your skin to tan and contributes to skin aging. It is important to protect yourself against both UVB and UVA rays harmful effects.
Here are some ways to protect yourself from overexposure to UV radiation:
- Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
- Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs.
- Wear a wide brim hat to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher
- Avoid indoor tanning.
“SPF is the most common way we protect ourselves from UV radiation so make sure you are using it properly,” explains Dr. Nasir. “First know that the higher the SPF does not necessarily mean the greater the protection if it is not used according to the directions.”
To ensure you are getting the most out of your SPF make sure you:
- Use SPF 30 or higher
- Use waterproof SPF
- Make sure it says “broad spectrum” to account for multiple types of UV rays
- Apply 30 minutes before going outside
- Apply again every 2 hours or after sweating or swimming
These are just some helpful tips to keep you and your family safe this summer. Make sure you consult with your doctor if you have any questions regarding UV safety.
Sources: CDC, Skin Cancer Foundation. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.