Seek Protection From Sunís Rays
By Susan Hansen, Extension Educator,
Do you think you look better with a suntan? Think again. Tanning actually is the skinís reaction to protecting itself from the sunís harmful rays. Even though a suntan may look nice and make one feel good, there is no medical evidence to suggest that a suntan improves health. Yes, we need some sun each day to get Vitamin D from the sunís rays. However, long-term sun exposure over the years may lead to premature skin aging and the risk of skin cancer.
Why are the sunís rays so harmful? The ultraviolet rays cause suntans and sunburns. Ultraviolet A rays cause skin pigment to darken and the skin to age. Ultraviolet B rays cause redness, burning and blistering. These rays are most directly linked to skin cancers.
Skin cancer is caused by excessive and long-term exposure to the sun. Too much sun exposure may lead to other skin problems, cataracts and other eye damage.
What can you do to protect yourself when outdoors in the sun?
1. Avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., if possible. Practice the ďshadow rule.Ē Seek shade when your shadow is shorter than you are tall.
2. Cover up by wearing lightweight, loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts, pants or long skirts.
3. Wear a hat. The hat should have a three-inch broad-brim to protect the back of the neck, ears, eyes and scalp. A baseball cap provides eye protection, but does little else for the rest of the face.
4. Wear sunglasses. Look for glasses that block out from 95 to 100 percent of the UVA and UVB rays.
5. Apply sunscreen. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher. Use sunscreen even on a cloudy day. Clouds allow up to 80 percent of UV rays to pass through. Remember to re-apply sunscreen after swimming or if you perspire a lot.
Follow the ďSlip! Slop! Slap!Ē slogan. Before going outdoors, slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat.
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