July may be UV Safety Month, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to not care about UV safety the other 11 months of the year. Sun safety needs to be considered every day—even if it is cloudy outside.
As the saying goes—your skin is your largest organ, you better take care of it. Doing so is fairly simple; and you can probably recite the following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) without even clicking on the link. Indulge me while I reiterate:
- Seek Shade. This is one of the easiest ways to reduce your skin damage and skin cancer risk, especially if you are outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Cover Up. Wear clothing to protect any exposed skin, even in the shade. This means a hat with a brim all the way around, sunglasses with UVA/UVB (broad spectrum) protection and clothing made of a tightly woven fabric.
- Lather Up. This is the most important, even if you’re in the shade and covered up, you should put sunscreen on before you head outside. Not just any sunscreen, but a broad spectrum protection product with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15. Make sure it’s not expired too.
Now just because you’ve done these three things, you’re not in the clear. If you had been, you wouldn’t be nursing that sunburn. You need to reapply. Sunscreen wears off, washes off and sweats off. Put it on again if you’ve been out for more than two hours. And while being in the shade is good; know that if you’re sitting on a light colored surface (e.g., water, sand, cement, etc.) you could be getting hit by a reflection of the sun’s rays.
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer (including melanoma and basal and squamous cell) is by far the most common cancer diagnosed every year. Even though a few physical traits can make some people more susceptible than others, anyone can get it. Before you go outside, whether you’re on your boat, camping in the woods or gardening in the back yard, find out what your UV index will be for the day. That way you can take the appropriate precautions to keep your skin healthy.
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