UV Safety Month
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has named July as Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month. The goal is to spread the word about how important it is to protect everyone’s skin from the harmful effects of UV rays. While summer is a great time to get outdoors, read on to make sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself and your family from UV radiation. Overexposure to UV radiation can also cause skin cancer, eye cataracts, eye damage, skin aging, growths on the skin, and immune system suppression.
What is UV Radiation?
The sun emits radiation in the form of UV light, which is classified into three types by wavelength: UVA, UVB, and UVC. The ozone layer is a protective layer in Earth’s stratosphere that blocks all UVC light, but UVB and UVA light pass through it. UVA penetrates deeply into the skin. It’s the type of UV radiation that causes wrinkling or leathering of the skin. UVB is the type of radiation that causes sunburns. Exposure to both UVA and UVB are associated with the development of skin cancer, so it is important to protect the skin during exposure to sunlight.
UV radiation is at its highest when the sun’s rays are the strongest. UV levels will be highest around noon on a clear sunny day, especially during the summer months. UV levels will also be highest near surfaces that reflect sunlight, such as snow, water or sand. One of the most dangerous sources of UV radiation is artificial UV lights like the type found in indoor tanning beds.
Thankfully, you can minimize the risks that come with time in the sun by protecting yourself from exposure to UV rays. Start by blocking UV light with protective clothing and eyewear, including hats with wide brims, long sleeves, pants, swimsuit cover-ups and, of course, sunglasses. You should also seek the shade when possible, but especially during the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are strongest. And you should always avoid artificial UV light sources like tanning beds.
Finally, choose the right sunscreen and apply it correctly. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and it should protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, most people apply only 25%–50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen. Apply at least one ounce—about a palmful—of sunscreen every two hours. It should be applied more often when sweating or swimming, even if the sunscreen is waterproof.
Stay safe while having fun in the sun! And remember, Lewis is your first stop for sunscreen, sunglasses and other ways to make the most of your summer.
If you have questions, stop by your local Lewis Pharmacy to talk to one of our experts!