July is UV Safety Awareness Month
Most of us love the warmer summer days and the ability to spend more time outside. Going to the beach, spending time in the pool or soaking up the sun while going for a walk outside are just some of the activities sunny days offer. Sounds fun, but what isn’t cool is skin and eye damage caused by excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays.
The sun emits radiation known as UV-A and UV-B rays. Both types can damage your eyes and skin:
- UV-A rays have longer wavelengths that can penetrate the middle layer of your skin.
- UV-B rays have short wavelengths that reach the outer layer of your skin.
The harmful effects of unprotected sun exposure are:
- Sunburn and premature aging are side effects of prolonged UV exposure.
- Increased risk of potentially blinding eye diseases, if eye protection is not used.
- Overexposure to UV radiation can lead to skin cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. The two most common types of skin cancer are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. Typically, they form on the head, face, neck, hands, and arms because these body parts are the most exposed to UV radiation. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to UV radiation.
Anyone can get skin cancer, but its more common for people who spend a lot of time in the sun, have light-colored skin, hair, and eyes, have a family member with skin cancer or are over age 50.
By learning the risks associated with too much sun exposure and taking the right precautions to protect you and your family from UV rays, everyone can enjoy the sun and outdoors safely.
- Use sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher, for both UVA and UVB protection.
- Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
- Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs.
- Wear a wide brim hat to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
Enjoy the outdoors this summer and remember to protect your eyes and the skin you're in!