As the hot summer days are upon us, we are reminded just how important it is to protect our skin from the strong UV rays the sun gives off. A study done by Cancer Research UK estimated that 86% of all skin cancer cases are malignant melanoma, a type of cancer caused by over-exposure to UV rays. Thus, 86% of all skin cancer could potentially be avoided if we took precautionary steps. While in most cases cancer can be removed and is considered not life-threatening, it is not a risk we should be willing to take.
In addition to cancer, there are several other lasting effects of over-exposure to the sun. One of the most immediate and painful can be sunburns, which are often accompanied by blistering and peeling of the skin. Premature aging of the skin is another unfortunate side effect. This includes things such as wrinkles, dry skin, sagging skin, loss of elasticity, as well as changes to the pigmentation of your skin. While many people enjoy laying in the sun and tanning, you will certainly look younger and healthier by avoiding over-exposure. In more extreme cases, overexposure to UV rays can also lead to immune system suppression, as well as severe damage to the eyes.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to limit your exposure to UV rays.
- Stay in the Shade
While we wouldn’t expect you to cut out beach days and time by the pool from your summer schedule, it is always good to remember to spend some time out of direct sunlight. This is especially important between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s UV rays are strongest.
- Wear Protective Clothing
Wearing more clothing while in the sun will certainly give you better protection from cancer-causing UV Rays. Dark colored clothing tends to do better at blocking out the UV rays, but some will still get through. Additionally, more tightly woven material will also fair better against the sun’s rays. Some clothing companies have developed materials specifically designed to block out more UV light than standard clothing.
Along with clothing, a hat and sunglasses are both very beneficial in protecting your skin (and eyes) from the sun. A hat will protect those areas that burn easily such as your nose and ears, while sunglasses will help to block out the 99% of UV radiation that the front of our eyes absorb.
- Put on Sunscreen
Putting on sunscreen is one of the most important things you can do to protect your skin from damaging rays. Make sure your sunscreen is at least SPF 30, which will block up to 98% of the UV rays. Sunscreen is not intended to allow you to spend endless time in the sun. It is also important to remember to use sunscreen on a day to day basis, not only when you are heading to the beach.
We know everyone wants to enjoy their time in the sun, and it is good to do so. Being outside is healthy and promotes physical activity, which is good for the body. Being in the sun is also a good source of Vitamin D for our bodies. However, it is vitally important we take the necessary precautions to protect our bodies from the sun’s harmful rays!