Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Prevention Spotlight: Safe Fun in the Sun

TGIS- Thank goodness it's summer!  

What better way to celebrate this fun-filled season than oceanside or poolside soaking in the sun's rays and cooling off with a refreshing swim.  But before you do, remember to protect yourself while having fun in the sun.  Although the sun is the best source of Vitamin D, overexposure to UV (ultraviolet) radiation increases the risk of both skin cancer and photoaging (sun-related skin aging) such as wrinkles, spider veins, loss of lip color and fullness and leathery skin to name just a few.  I thought I would summarize the key points from the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine to help you avoid damaging UV light this summer...

  • 10AM-4PM are the hours between which the sun's rays are at maximum intensity.  Minimize sun exposure during these times or find a nice spot under the shade of an umbrella or tree.  Hats with wide brims and shirts with sleeves can help protect you as well as UV-protective sunglasses. 
  • Keep infants under 6 months of age out of direct sunlight whenever possible as per the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Always use sunscreen when heading out into the sun whether tanning, exercising or working.  According to the American Academy of Dermatology guidelines, sunscreen should be used daily and all year-round.  When choosing sunscreen make sure you see the words "broad-spectrum" (protection against radiation in the entire UV spectrum) and "water-resistant" (new FDA guidelines ban the terms "sunblock," "waterproof," or "sweatproof") on the product with a sun protection factor otherwise known as SPF of at least 30 regardless of age or skin type.  For adults, apply approximately 2 tablespoons about 15 minutes before going out, paying special attention to face, ears, hands, arms and lips, common areas of non-melanoma skin cancer.  Even on overcast, cloudy or cool days or if you plan to head directly into the water, don't forget to use sunscreen!  Those clouds can provide a false sense of security; UV rays travel through clouds and reflect off water and sand causing unexpected sunburn and skin damage.  
  • As per the FDA, oils, lotions, creams, gels, butters, pastes and ointments are all acceptable forms of sunscreen.  Wipes, towelettes, powders, body washes and shampoos are unacceptable forms.  Spray forms are still awaiting final decision by the FDA, pending further testing.  Don't select any sunscreen that claims "instant protection" or maintenance of efficacy for over 2 hours without reapplication.    
  • Make sure to reapply sunscreen avery 2 hours or even more frequently if you have been sweating excessively from that volleyball match or jog on the beach or if you have been swimming.  Sunscreen only lasts for so long and here is one place you shouldn't be frugal.
  • Don't think that you can lay there and bake like a potato under the sun all day if you just keep applying more and more suncreen all over.  Sunscreen is not intended for this and by doing so you are raising your risk of skin cancer and photoaging.
  • And here is a perfect spot to reinforce my sentiment on tanning beds.  Don't use them.  Ever.  They are carcinogenic.  The World Health Organization classifies them as such and the American Dermatologic Association supports a ban on them. 

Have fun this summer and remember to keep yourself and loved ones protected!    

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