Remember Sun Safety

High Plains Road Trip

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. with over 2 million new cases of skin cancer every year. One in five Americans will get skin cancer. Men get skin cancer about TWICE as often as women. It is also the most common cancer for young adults (25-29). 

The Sun has several Benefits: Heat; Light; Photosynthesis; Outdoor Environment for Activity; Production of Vitamin D; and Positive Effects on Mood and Behavior. However, the sun can also contribute to some Harms: Suntan; Sunburn; Premature Aging; Freckles; Liver Spots; Wrinkles; Loss of Elasticity in our skin; Cataracts; Suppression of Immune System; and Skin Cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. 

Protect you and your family from skin cancer by monitoring and use protection during peak UV times and avoid direct and prolonged exposure to UV rays. You can reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by seeking shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter before you need relief from the sun. Be extra careful around surfaces that reflect the sun’s rays, like snow, sand, water, and concrete. Your best bet to protect your skin is to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing when you’re outside—even when you’re in the shade. 

Choose fabrics with a tight weave and dark colors that cover large portions of skin. When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. If wearing this type of clothing isn’t practical, at least try to wear a T-shirt or a beach cover-up. 

Hats with a brim all the way around that shades your face, ears, and the back of your neck is another great choice for UV protection. A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works best to protect your skin from UV rays. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. A darker hat may offer more UV protection. If you wear a baseball cap, you should also protect your ears and the back of your neck by wearing clothing that covers those areas, using a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15, or by staying in the shade. Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure. Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Most sunglasses sold in the United States, regardless of cost, meet this standard. Wrap-around sunglasses work best because they block UV rays from sneaking in from the side. 

Clouds only block about 20% of UV rays. Sun screen is the best product guaranteed to protect as directed. According to WebMD; wear sunscreen every day, in all weather and in every season. It should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 and say “broad-spectrum” on the label, which means it protects against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Put it on at least 15 minutes before going outside. Use 1 ounce, which would fill a shot glass. Reapply sunscreen at least every 80 minutes, or more often if you’re sweating or swimming. Keep in mind, NO sunscreen blocks 100% of UV rays.

Take special precautions with your infants and children:
Infants under 6 months should be kept out of the direct sun as much as possible. Their skin is not yet protected by melanin.  But young children’s skin is especially sensitive to chemical allergens, as well as the sun’s UV rays.  Test sunscreen by applying a small amount on the inside of your child’s wrist the day before you plan to use it. If irritation or rash develops, try another product. Ask your child’s doctor to suggest a product less likely to irritate your child’s skin. Slop on sunscreen and reapply it often, especially if your child is playing in the water or sweating a lot. 

Dangerous ultraviolet (UV) light can be revealed using simple, UV white beads.  UV beads contain a pigment that changes color when exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun. The beads remain pale in the presence of visible light or when shielded from UV light.

Instead of using your skin as a UV detector, do a test with simple UV white beads to see if the sunscreen you are using is effective. These beads change color when exposed to UV light.  Knowing the effectiveness of your sunscreen will make your sun time more of a fun time.  To test your sunscreen, slather your bead(s) with your sunscreen and see if it changes color when exposed to the rays of the sun!  These beads are very sensitive and will always change color a little regardless of how well a sunscreen works. If the sunscreen products are performing as advertised, however, you should easily see color differences in the beads. The untreated beads should be colorful.  The treated beads should be much less bright.

Keep in mind, Sunscreen products do have a shelf life and it’s not very long. They break down over time so plan on buying a fresh supply of sunscreen each summer, and it’s not very long. They break down over time so plan on buying a fresh supply of sunscreen each summer. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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