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July 2020

July is UV Safety Awareness Month | Healthcare South

Summer has arrived and while the sun is shining bright it's the perfect time to head outdoors and enjoy the sunny weather. But are you protecting yourself from potential risks? By learning the risks associated with too much sun exposure and taking the right precautions to protect you and your family from UV rays, everyone can enjoy the sun and outdoors safely.

Ultra violet (UV) light is a form of radiation. These invisible rays are part of the energy that comes from the sun. Overexposure to the sun's UV rays can cause damage to the skin and cause different types of skin cancer. It's always important to stay safe when your family is playing in the sun. While it may seem like a sunburn is a temporary irritation, it can leave long-lasting damage to your skin. According to the Melanoma Research Foundation, "Just one blistering sunburn during childhood can double the chances of developing melanoma later in life."

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. Even more troublesome is that many people are diagnosed with more than one skin cancer type. Invasive melanoma represents about 1% of all skin cancer cases, but it accounts for the majority of skin cancer deaths with an estimated 87,110 new cases of invasive melanoma annually and 9,730 deaths 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 tips that can help protect you from harmful UV rays:

  1. Block UV light with protective clothing. This includes wearing a hat (preferably wide brimmed) as well as shade-protective clothing. This can partly shield the skin from the harmful effects of UV ray exposure. Don't forget to wear sunglasses that have a label that says protects 99% of UV radiation for eye protection.
  2. Wear sunscreen that provides both UVA and UVB protection with an SPF of at least 15. When out in the sun, apply at least one ounce (a palmful) of sunscreen every two hours. It should be applied more often when sweating or swimming, even if the sunscreen is waterproof.
  3. Stay in the shade - The sun is at its strongest from 10 a.m. to 4p.m., so try and take a break in the shade during those hours. The sun can still damage the skin on cloudy days or in the winter, so year-round protection is important.
  4. Avoid tanning beds which are sources of artificial UV light. There is no such thing as a safe tan.
  5. Early detection of melanoma or any skin cancer is important. Both monthly self-skin examinations and yearly skin examination by your health care provider can help identify melanoma early.

Have a Safe Summer

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