Back to Health Blog

But First, SPF!


Posted: 6/29/2020
But First, SPF!

Summer in the Capital Region has arrived. While the sun is shining bright and the weather hitting up to 90 degrees, it's "golden hour" to highlight UV Safety Awareness Month. Learn about the risks associated with too much sun exposure and learn how to take the correct precautions to protect you and your family from the strong UV rays so everyone can enjoy the summer and outdoors safely.
 
Even though Ultraviolet (UV) light makes up just a small portion of the sun's rays, it is still the primary cause of skin damage. Overexposure to UV light can cause damage to DNA in skin cells, increases the risk of skin cancer and accelerates signs of aging such as fine lines, deep wrinkles, and dark spots. Most exposure to UV rays comes from the sun, but some can come from human-made sources, such as indoor tanning beds and sun lamps. UV radiation is invisible rays that are part of the energy that comes from the sun. The beneficial effects of UV radiation include the production of a vital nutrient, vitamin D; however, overexposure may present risks. Sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer are all risks to overexposure. Keeping you and your family protected from UV radiation is an important, year-round responsibility, not just during the hot summer months.

Sources of UV Radiation

  • Our natural source of UV radiation: The Sun
  • Some artificial sources of UV radiation include:
    • Tanning beds
    • Mercury vapor lighting (often found in stadiums and school gyms)
    • Some halogen, fluorescent, and incandescent lights
    • Some types of lasers

Understanding UV Radiation

UV radiation is classified into one of three primary groups: ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC). The earth's ozone layer absorbs all of the UVC and most of the UVB radiation, so nearly all of the ultraviolet radiation received on Earth is UVA. UVA and UVB radiation can both affect health. Even though UVA radiation is weaker than UVB, it penetrates deeper into the skin and is more constant throughout the year. Since the earth's ozone layer absorbs UVC radiation, it does not pose as much of a risk.

Risks & Benefits of UV Radiation

Benefits

The beneficial effects of UV radiation include the production of vitamin D, a vitamin essential to human health. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus from food and assists bone development. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 5 to 15 minutes of sun exposure 2 to 3 times a week.
 
Artificial forms of UV radiation (i.e., lasers, lamps, or a combination of these devices) used with some topical medications that increase UV sensitivity are sometimes used to treat patients with specific diseases who have not responded to other therapy methods.

Risks

Sunburn is a sign of short-term overexposure, while premature aging and skin cancer are side effects of prolonged UV exposure. Some oral and topical medicines, such as antibiotics, birth control pills, and benzoyl peroxide products, as well as some cosmetics, may increase skin and eye sensitivity to UV in all skin types. UV exposure increases the risk of potentially blinding eye diseases if eye protection is not used. Overexposure to UV radiation can lead to serious health issues, including cancer. Most melanoma cases, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to UV radiation.
 
Anyone can get skin cancer but is more common in people who:

  • Spend a lot of time in the sun or have been sunburned.
  • Have light-color skin, hair, and eyes.
  • Have a family member with skin cancer.
  • They are over age 50.

Protecting Yourself from UV Radiation

As we already mentioned, keeping yourself protected is an important responsibility all year long, not just when you go to the beach or during the summer months. Here is how to protect yourself from UV radiation:

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs.
  • Consider options to protect your children.
  • Wear a wide brim hat to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher for both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Avoid indoor tanning. Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous for younger users; people who begin indoor tanning during adolescence or early adulthood have a higher risk of developing melanoma.

 Also, parents, remember to protect your children. Just a few severe sunburns can increase your child's risk of skin cancer later in life. Kids don't have to be at the pool, beach, or on vacation to get too much sun. Their skin needs protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they're outdoors.
 
The UV Index scale helps us understand how harmful UV radiation can be on a given day. This useful tool forecasts the strength of the sun's harmful rays. Remember, the higher the number, the greater chance of overexposure, leading to health concerns.

UV Index Scale Cheat Sheet

Exposure Category Index Number Sun Protection Messages
LOW <2

You can safely enjoy being outside. Wear sunglasses on bright days. If you burn easily, cover up and use sunscreen SPF 30+.


In winter, reflection off snow can nearly double UV strength.

MODERATE 3-5

Take precautions if you will be outside, such as wearing a hat and sunglasses and using sunscreen SPF 30+. Reduce your exposure to the sun's most intense UV radiation by seeking shade during midday hours.

HIGH 6-7

Protection against sun damage is needed. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, use sunscreen SPF 30+ and wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants when practical. Reduce your exposure to the sun's most intense UV radiation by seeking shade during midday hours.

VERY HIGH 8-10

Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A shirt, hat and sunscreen are a must, and be sure you seek shade.

Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and can double UV exposure.

EXTREME 11+

Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A shirt, hat and sunscreen are a must, and be sure you seek shade.

Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and can double UV exposure.

 

What To Do If You’re Concerned About Your Skin

Early detection of melanoma can save your life. Carefully examine ALL of your skin once a month. If you notice a new or changing mole, contact Community Care Dermatology to schedule an appointment to examine your skin thoroughly. Community Care Dermatology provides a full range of services in the field of medical dermatology. Dr. Hillary Siebeneck is a board-certified dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. Dr. Siebeneck and her staff are dedicated to providing the highest quality of care in dermatology and to creating a comfortable and compassionate forum for patients. The scope of practice includes skin cancer screenings, as well as treatment of a wide variety of cutaneous infections and non-infectious skin conditions. If you need to schedule an appointment or to learn more about the practice, contact (518) 783-3110 ext. 3031.
 
 

Source
https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/features/uv-radiation-safety/
https://www.cancer.org/healthy/be-safe-in-sun/uv-protection.html
https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/ultraviolet.htm

 


Share This Page


 Older Article Newer Article   Back to Health Blog