August is Summer Sun Safety Month! It’s a great time to learn about some of the damaging effects that too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure can have on the skin. You'll also find tips to help you protect yourself and your family from getting too much sun.
The American Cancer Society says “Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. UVB rays have more energy and are a more potent cause of at least some skin cancers, but both UVA and UVB rays can damage skin and cause skin cancer. There are no safe UV rays."
- UV rays are strongest in the middle of the day, between 10 am and 4 pm.
- UV rays are stronger during spring and summer months
- More UV rays reach the ground at higher elevations
- UV rays can get through to the ground, even on a cloudy day
- UV rays can bounce off surfaces like water, sand, snow, or pavement
The US National Weather Service and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). have developed the UV Index, which gives you an idea of how strong the UV light is in your area on a scale from 1 to 11+ with a higher number means greater risk of exposure to UV rays and a higher chance of sunburn.
How to protect yourself
Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible with long-sleeved shirts, long pants or skirts. Dark colors generally provide more protection than light colors and tightly woven fabric protects better than loosely woven.
These sun-protective clothes may have a label listing the UV protection factor (UPF) value (the level of protection the garment provides from the sun’s UV rays, on a scale from 15 to 50+). The higher the UPF, the higher the protection from UV rays.
Spoonie Threads offers two products with SPF50 protection: Soft Sleeve PICC Line Cover and T1D Bicep Bands. They are soft, sweat-wicking, and SPF50 and provide UV protection for sensitive arms.
Wear hats—wide brims offer more protection. A hat with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim all around is ideal to cover ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp.
UV-blocking sunglasses protect both your eyes and the delicate skin around them. The ideal sunglasses should block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. If there is no label they may not provide any UV protection.
And finally, sunscreen needs to be applied generously and reapplied often. Even with proper sunscreen use, some UV rays still get through. Sunscreens are available in many forms – lotions, creams, sprays, and lip balms. Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) and with sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher are recommended.
Simply staying in the shade or adequate cover is one of the best ways to limit your UV exposure. An obvious but very important way to limit your exposure to UV light is to avoid being outdoors in direct sunlight too long. And don’t forget--some UV rays can also pass through windows.
Children need special attention because they tend to spend a lot of time outdoors and can burn more easily. Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight.