July is UV Awareness month! It is important to note that skin protection should be incorporated throughout the year. It can be easy to become excited about the warm weather and forget to protect your skin during the summer months. Before going into ways to protect your skin, let’s talk about what UV radiation is.
The UV light is a form of radiation. By definition, radiation is the emission of energy from any source. There are several types of radiation, but UV radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. The main source of UV radiation is the sun, although it can come from man-made sources such as tanning beds and welding torches. Radiation can be from very high energy, such as x-rays and gamma rays, to very low energy, such as radio waves. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 5.4 million basal skin cancers are diagnosed annually, and nearly 3.3 million people are diagnosed with squamous cell skin cancers annually. Overexposure to UV radiation can also cause eye cataracts, eye damage, skin aging, growths on the skin, and immune system suppression.
Here are a few ways you can protect your skin and incorporate it into your daily routine:
1. Sunscreen: A popular way to protect your skin, although choosing the right sunscreen is important. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s regulations for sunscreen labeling recommend that sunscreen have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and it should protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, most people apply only 25%–50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen. When out in the sun, apply at least one ounce (a palmful) of sunscreen every two hours.
2. Clothing: Wearing a hat and sunglasses are also a great source of protection. There are clothing articles that have SPF protection, which is great for hiking and exercising in the outdoors.
3. No artificial UV Light: Stay away from tanning beds. There is no such thing as a safe tan. It will significantly increase your risk of developing skin cancer. This also causes premature aging of the skin.
Be sun smart this season, but most importantly have fun during this bright time of year. The sunlight is a great source of Vitamin D, but remember to protect your skin.