The warm summer months often equals more time outdoors. From swimming to gardening there are countless activities for fun in the sun, but this extra time outside can be damaging to the skin and eyes, making it important to understand UV rays and how to guard yourself against sun damage. Ultraviolet radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation that comes from the sun or from man-made sources such as tanning beds or welding torches. The sun emits radiation in three forms of light:
UVC– The Earth’s stratosphere blocks this light from passing through it
UVA– This light has longer wavelengths and penetrates deeply into our skin and causes wrinkling
UVB– This light has shorter wavelengths that penetrate only the outer layer of the skin, this is the radiation that causes sunburns
Both UVA and UVB rays are known to cause skin cancer which means it’s crucial to protect your skin from the sun’s harsh radiation. The UV radiation is highest when the sun’s rays are the strongest, usually around midday.Radiation will be more intense on summer days, in higher altitudes, and near reflective surfaces such as snow or sand. Keep this in mind when enjoying a summer afternoon outside.
Overexposure to UV radiation through natural or artificial exposure can cause:
These are just a few of the consequences of overexposure, and while the dangers are obvious, there are plenty of ways to stay safe and protect yourself from UV radiation. We’ve compiled a list of recommendations to help prioritize sun safety and your health.
Wearing hats and shade protective clothing can help partially shield the skin from UV rays. Proper clothing includes long sleeves, pants, hats, and sunglasses to help protect your body, face, and eyes from the sun. When picking out sunglasses remember to look for those labeled for protecting against 99% of UV rays.
Staying in the Shade:
Staying in the shade during the hottest times of the day (from 10 am to 4 pm in most places) will help you avoid the most intense hours of radiation in the day. Additionally, being close to reflective surfaces such as sand, water, or snow will intensify the sun’s glare, as will higher altitudes.
Choosing the appropriate sunscreen is important to ensure you are getting the protection you need! Think about the level of activity and sun exposure you expect for the day and select the type of sunscreen that will match the coverage you need.
Reapply sunscreen every two hours if you are outside. Each time you reapply you should be using about a palmful of sunscreen to properly cover your body. If you are sweating from vigorous activity or swimming you will need to reapply more frequently to fully protect against UV rays.
It is important to protect your skin from the sun every day, even when it seems cloudy outside. Regularly using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding the sun during its most powerful hours are important recommendations to follow to keep your skin and eyes happy and healthy.
For more information regarding UV rays and safety precautions check out these resources:
July is UV Safety Awareness Month
Raise Awareness in July for Ultraviolet Safety and Skin Cancer Risk