With the summer heat upon us, it makes sense that July is ultraviolet (UV) safety month. During this month, the goal is to spread awareness about the importance of protecting your eyes and skin from the side effects of harmful UV rays. This month acts as a reminder of the connection between overexposure to UV light, cancers and other ailments that can occur in the eyes, lips and skin.
Extended exposure to UV rays can come from natural or artificial sources and are a major cause of most skin cancers, including melanoma, basal cells and squamous cell. Those who are exposed to higher levels of UV rays can go through premature aging of the skin from sun damage that includes leathery skin, liver spots, wrinkles and solar elastosis.
People with extreme UV light exposure can also develop a weakened immune system. Vaccines can be less effective, and it might be harder to fight off infections that occur.
Although these outcomes can be scary, there are things you can do to help minimize your risk of UV exposure.
- Choose the right sunscreen: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that anyone expecting sun exposure wear a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) that is at least 25 and blocks UV-A and UV-B rays.
- Cover up: If you plan to be in the sun you should wear proper clothing such as pants, long-sleeved shirts, a hat and sunglasses to protect you from harmful rays.
- Stay in the Shade: The sun is at its most intense from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Try staying in a shaded area during those times to help protect your skin.
The summer is meant to be fun with many outdoor activities available. You can enjoy all of these events, just remember to take daily precautions to protect yourself from UV rays. Protection now could prevent skin cancers and other issues later in life.