Summer is here, and it’s time to gear up for summer sun safety. How much do you know about the sun and its rays? You know, that big yellow circle in the sky? We are in the sun’s view almost everyday, and it’s important to know the harmful effects that it can have on you.
Tanning is becoming a thing of the past as people are learning to take better care of their skin. We all want better, younger looking skin and if we take the necessary precautions we can achieve it.
Here’s what you need to know. Both the natural sun and tanning beds emit harmful ultraviolet radiation that in the short term can cause painful sunburn and in the long term can cause ugly skin blemishes, premature aging of the skin and also, skin cancer, eye problems, and an under active immune system.
People with light skin are more likely to develop sun damaged skin. Darker skinned people, including African Americans and Hispanic Americans are also susceptible. People with darker skin will resist the sun’s rays which, for them, results in a tan. This is actually an indication that the skin has been damaged.
Tanning occurs when UV rays are absorbed into the skin and cause an increase in the melanocyte activity. These are the cells that produce pigment (color) in our skin, known as melanin. Melanin helps to block out harmful rays, but only up to a certain point. Those with lighter pigment will tend to burn faster than those with dark.
The best time to avoid the sun is between 10 a.m. and 4.p.m., when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. It is important also, to avoid the sun when the UV index is high. The UV Index is a number from 0 to 10 that indicates the amount or radiation that reaches the earth’s surface during the noon hour. The higher the number, the greater the exposure.
Cloudy skies are NOT an indication that it is safer to be out in the sun. Clouds block only up to 20% of UV radiation. UV rays can also pass through water, so don’t be fooled by thinking that just because you are swimming or in cool water that you are free from harmful UV rays.
So what is the best way to protect ourselves and safeguard us against damaging UV rays? Sun screen and sunglasses are a good start. Sunscreens are designed to reflect some or all of the suns rays. Some sunscreen products offer what is called “broad spectrum”. These lotions and forms of sunscreen protect against 2 types of radiation, UVA and UVB. It was once thought that only UVB rays were the harmful rays, now scientists believe that both can damage the skin and lead to skin cancer.
There are several ways for us to get the protection that we need. The most important thing that you can do is wear sunscreen. It is offered in an array of SPF protection. Scientists say that 30 SPF is really the maximum that should be used. Anything higher than that is not really that much more effective and will only expose your skin to higher levels of possibly dangerous chemicals.
Waterproof and sweat proof sunscreens are important for children who spend a lot of time outdoors in the swimming pools and sprinklers. Just to be safe, it is wise to reapply sunscreen after having been in the water or having sweat it off.
Sunscreen can also be found in makeup, lipstick, chapstick, and lotions. Sunscreen should be applied liberally to any exposed parts of the skin. It is also suggested to apply the product 15-30 minutes before going outside. It can be applied to the face; take care around the eyelids, nose, ears, neck, and scalp. Apply also to the hands and feet.
Sunglasses are another form of sun protection. An invisible chemical applied to the lenses provides them with UV protection. Be sure to check to see if they are labeled with a UV protectant, and don’t assume that just because they are dark that they will protect you from the sun.
Sun protection is important. It is worth the little bit of effort it takes to keep yourself safe and protected. Avoiding protection from the sun in order to get a tan is not worth the risk of skin cancer. So, cover up and play it safe. Have safe summer fun!