August is Summer Sun Safety Month in the United States, and for good reason! The summer sun can be harsh, and it’s essential to take steps to protect yourself. Whether you’re spending time at the park, beach or just hanging out in your backyard, remember to stay safe in the sun. It’s no secret that too much sun exposure can harm your health. And yet, despite the risks, many of us still spend hours outdoors without wearing proper protection. Whether we’re working in the yard or going for a run, we often forget to put on sunglasses or sunscreen.
In addition to causing skin problems like wrinkles, discoloration, and even skin cancer, excessive sun exposure can also lead to eye damage. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage the cornea, lens, and retina, resulting in cataracts, macular degeneration, and other vision problems.
But by making a few simple changes to our habits, we can dramatically reduce our risk of sun-related eye and skin problems. So next time you head outdoors, remember the tips below. Your skin and eyes will thank you for it.
There are no safe tans.
While a bronzed complexion may look great, it’s important to remember that there is no safe tan. Unless, of course, it comes from a bottle! There are plenty of self-tanning options available that let you achieve a bronzed glow without the harmful side effects of ultraviolet radiation that come from the sun and tanning beds. If you must have tan-looking skin, opt for a self-tanning lotion or spray.
Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun
Wearing sunglasses can help protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Buy sunglasses that block out at least 99% of UV rays, and wear them whenever you’re outdoors. With a bit of protection, you can enjoy all the benefits of the outdoors without putting your eyes at risk.
Drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated in the sun
One of the most important things to remember when spending time in the sun is to stay hydrated. It’s crucial to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, fatigue, and lightheadedness, so it’s important to watch out for these signs.
The sun is powerful on reflective surfaces.
Did you know that reflective surfaces can intensify the sun’s rays, making them even more dangerous than direct sunlight? If you’re spending time outdoors near water, snow, or sand, apply sunscreen generously and reapply it often.
Harmful UV rays penetrate clouds
Many believe that clouds protect them from the sun, but in reality, they only filter out some harmful rays. The rest still reach the ground, where they can cause sun damage. So even on days when the sun is hidden behind a blanket of clouds, it’s essential to take precautions against UV exposure.
Seek shade, especially when the sun’s rays are strongest in the middle of the day.
Shade can come from trees, umbrellas, or even buildings. When you’re in the shade, you’re automatically protected from the majority of the sun’s UV rays. However, it’s important to remember that even in the shade, you’re not entirely safe from the sun. UV rays can still bounce off surfaces like concrete and water, so it’s always important to wear sunscreen when you’re outdoors, even in the shade.
Wear protective clothing
Wearing protective clothing is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of sun damage. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats can all help to shield your skin from harmful UV rays.
Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin, and reapply every two hours or more often if you’re swimming or sweating. If you need sunscreen, visit the Skin and Cancer Institute’s online store for medical-grade sunscreens for your body and face.
Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps, which emit harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Tanning beds and sun lamps emit high levels of UV radiation, and just one session can increase your risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Indoor tanning is particularly harmful to young people. People who use a tanning bed before they’re 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 59 percent. And those who’ve been using tanning beds for more than 10 years increase their risk by an astounding 125 percent. If you’re looking for a healthy glow, there are safer alternatives to tanning beds, such as self-tanning products and spray tans. So please, avoid indoor tanning and protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Get an annual skin check at the Skin and Cancer Institute
For most of us, a trip to the doctor is something we only do when we’re feeling under the weather. But there’s one type of doctor visit that’s important even if you’re feeling healthy: a skin check. Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and it can strike even if you don’t have any risk factors. That’s why getting an annual skin check from a qualified dermatologist is so important. At the Skin and Cancer Institute, our experienced providers can spot signs of skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable. We use the latest technology to provide comprehensive care and tailor our treatment plans to each patient. So don’t wait until you have a problem to see us – schedule an appointment today for peace of mind tomorrow.