3 Ways to Protect Your Skin From the Sun

Sun safety is incredibly important because skin cancer is the most common form of cancer.  The CDC notes that in 2010 (the most recent survey year), that 61,061 people were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin.  While sun safety is not a surefire way to prevent skin cancer, it can significantly help reduce the odds of being diagnosed with skin cancer.  The Skin Cancer Foundation explains how sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer, “By damaging the skin’s cellular DNA, excessive UV radiation produces genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer. Both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization have identified UV as a proven human carcinogen. UV radiation is considered the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC), including basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). These cancers strike more than a million and more than 250,000 Americans, respectively, each year. Many experts believe that, especially for fair-skinned people, UV radiation also frequently plays a key role in melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, which kills more than 8,000 Americans each year.”  Follow the sun safety tips below to help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.

  1. Seek the Shade
    • Getting out, being active and enjoying the fresh air is a wonderful thing to do.  There is no reason to stay inside all day every day just to avoid the sun.  But, getting out and getting fresh air does not mean that you should sit in the sun for hours on end with no protection.  Seek shady areas where you can get a break from direct rays.  UV rays are strongest between the hours of 10am and 4pm so during those hours it is important to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible.
  2. Wear Sunscreen
    • We all know we should wear sunscreen, especially if we are headed for a swim.  While this is true, sunscreen should be worn every day to help protect skin from harmful damage.  Your skin is exposed to skin far more than you may realize and if you protect it ever day, your skin will be much healthier.  The EPA explains how sunscreen works and why it is important, “Sunscreens protect your skin by absorbing and/or reflecting UVA and UVB rays. The FDA requires that all sunscreens contain a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) label. The SPF reveals the relative amount of sunburn protection that a sunscreen can provide an average user (tested on skin types 1, 2, and 3) when correctly used. Sunscreens with an SPF of at least 15 are recommended. You should be aware that an SPF of 30 is not twice as protective as an SPF of 15; rather, when properly used, an SPF of 15 protects the skin from 93 percent of UVB radiation, and an SPF 30 sunscreen provides 97 percent protection.  Although the SPF ratings found on sunscreen packages apply mainly to UVB rays, many sunscreen manufacturers include ingredients that protect the skin from some UVA rays as well. These “broad-spectrum” sunscreens are highly recommended.
  3. Wear Light Layers of Clothing
    • It may seem counterintuitive to wear clothing, and even long-sleeved clothing when you are out in the sun because you think you will be hot.  But, wearing light layers of clothing is a great way to protect yourself from the sun’s damaging rays without overheating.  You do not need to wear a coat out of the house every day, but even a light wearing or long-sleeved t-shirt will help significantly reduce your sun exposure.

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