Practicing Safe Fun in the Sun
July is UV Safety Awareness Month; a time to educate ourselves on the harmful effects of the sun and skin cancer prevention.
Summer is in full swing and it’s time to have some fun in the sun! With all the outdoor recreation Colorado has to offer, it’s important to keep sun and UV safety in mind. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.5 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, with UV exposure being the leading cause¹. Read along for the best practices to preventing sun damage and skin cancer.
Choosing the Best Sunscreen
Always apply sunscreen before spending time outdoors and remember to reapply every 2 hours (or after swimming or sweating). You’ll want to find a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, SPF 30 or higher, and water resistant. Look for a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide—both are FDA approved and considered physical blocking ingredients. These can be found in mineral based sunscreens, which are better for both you and the environment.
For more information on choosing the best sunscreen, visit: https://www.everydayhealth.com/skin-beauty/steps-choosing-clean-safe-sunscreen/
Protect Your Eyes with Sunglasses
In addition to protecting our skin, it’s also crucial to protect our eyes from UV rays with a good pair of sunglasses.
“UV radiation, whether from natural sunlight or indoor artificial rays, can damage the eye’s surface tissues as well as the cornea and lens,” says ophthalmologist Michael Kutryb, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology².
Search for sunglasses with a label that reads 100% UV or UV400 protection. For more information, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has provided a great article on their recommended types of sunglasses: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/sunglasses-recommended-types
Sun Smart Clothing and Hats
The skin on your face is the most prone to sun damage. Wearing a wide brimmed hat or baseball cap can provide an extra layer of protection for your face. It’s also helpful to wear lightweight long sleeves and pants (when temperatures permit) to keep as much skin covered as possible. Be on the lookout for clothing that has an ultraviolet protection factor, which will likely be labeled as “UPF”.
Seeking the Shade
The sun’s UV rays are strongest from 10am to 2pm. Try to limit your sun exposure during these times by seeking a shaded area if possible. If you have a yard with no trees, it’s worth investing in a good umbrella. Happen to be without a watch? Look at your shadow—if your shadow is shorter than you, the sun is at peak UV hours and it’s time to find some shade.
If you have any concerns about sun damage or moles, call your primary care provider. Our providers at St. Vincent Family Health Center can assess your skin and refer you to a dermatologist if needed. Call us at 719-486-0230 with any questions.