The Top 5 Sun Protection Tips from Our Dermatologists
Ultraviolet Radiation (UV radiation) refers to rays of energy from the sun to which we are exposed every day. Over time, chronic UV exposure can lead to damage of both the skin and the eyes. Lifelong protection is essential and should begin early in childhood and be followed throughout the course of our lives.
Ultraviolet B (UVB) is known as the “burning” ray. This is present in the highest concentrations mainly in the summer and is typically strongest from 10 am to 4pm. Ultraviolet A (UVA) is the ray from the sun that penetrates deeper into the skin and is also responsible for significant damage to skin and eyes over time. It is present all day long and all year long. It penetrates through clouds, building and car windows and it reflects off snow, sand, grass and water. Over time, both of these forms of radiation can lead to chronic sun damage and skin cancers to include basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and melanomas.
Here are 5 ways to protect your skin and eyes from UVA/UVB for a lifetime of good health:
- Apply sunscreens daily! Use “Broad Spectrum” sunscreens, which refers to a sunscreen’s ability to protect against both UVA and UVB exposure. Choose a product with at least a Sun Protection Factor (SPF rating) of 30 and apply at least 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two – four hours when there is prolonged exposure. Sunscreens may be applied to children older than six months of age.
- Covering skin with the new lines of sun-protective clothing is an excellent strategy. This is one of the most effective ways to protect our skin. Brands such as Coolibar and Cabana Life can offer 50+ UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) with their clothing. Numerous sporting goods stores also now carry UPF clothing. Sun hats with wide brims and flaps to shade the ears and neck, lightweight long-sleeved shirts, sun rompers, cover ups and swim bodysuits provide superior coverage.
- Wide, polarized sunglasses help to protect not only the retinas from chronic UV damage but also the delicate skin of our eyelids. Look for lenses that are labelled “100% UVA/UVB Protection.”
- Seek shade! Shady areas not only offer cool relief on a hot summer day, but they also help to protect from constant UV radiation exposure.
- Limit overall exposure to UVA/UVB rays. Sunscreens should be worn year-round on exposed skin. Choose indoor and shaded activities when available. Tanning booths and tanning beds have been labeled “carcinogens” by the FDA and should be avoided completely.
Basal Cell is the most common cancer in the world and the incidence of melanoma skin cancer is rising at record rates. New England has the highest concentration of melanoma cases in the United States.
Sun safe habits are wonderful when learned at a young age and can both protect you and your children and also help everyone enjoy activities and lifestyles for a lifetime of great health.