UV ray protection runs more than skin deep
Skin is the body’s largest organ, protecting against heat, sunlight and infection. But for many, protecting their skin isn’t a high priority.
Galveston County Health District (GCHD) celebrates National Ultraviolet Safety Month in July, encouraging the public to take better care of their skin.
Overexposure to the sun and UV rays is linked to skin cancer, eye problems, a weakened immune system, age spots, wrinkles and leathery skin.
Protecting skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation from the sun is simple.
Wear proper clothing: Protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts and pants is a good option.
“It’s Texas and summer, so we know it’s hot out there, but that’s even more reason to take care of your skin. Try light cottons and linens to offer coverage, but also allow for a breeze when you’re outdoors,” GCHD CEO Kathy Barroso said.
“Protect your face, ears and neck with a wide-brimmed hat and your eyes with UV-resistant sunglasses,” Barroso added.
Avoid the burn: Sunburns significantly increase the lifetime risk of developing skin cancer. It is especially important that children be kept from sunburns.
Find shade: If possible, stay out of the sun during peak hours, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Find a shaded location or create shade using an umbrella or wide-brimmed hat.
“You’re not safe just because it’s cloudy or winter,” Barroso said. “You can still get a sunburn so practice these tips year-round.”
Water, snow, sand, even the windows of a building, can reflect the damaging rays of the sun, increasing the chance of a sunburn.
Depending on the coverage area, a full-day outing could require one entire tube of sunscreen. Be generous when applying broad-spectrum sunscreen to exposed skin. Broad-spectrum protects against overexposure to ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays and the FDA recommends using sunscreens that are broad-spectrum with SPF 15 or higher.
“Apply and reapply. Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outside,” Barroso said. “You need to reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating – even if the sunscreen is labeled water-resistant.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the more common sun-related vision problems include cataracts, macular degeneration and pterygium (non-cancerous growth of the conjunctiva that can obstruct vision).
Wearing a wide-brimmed hat helps protect eyes because it shades the face from the sun at most angles. Wrap-around style sunglasses with 99 or higher UV block should block glare and block 99-100 percent of UV rays. The wrap-around style helps protect eyes from most angles.