Submitted by Wendy Chirieleison, MS Ed
Community Health Educator
Summer Skin Safety
When you go shopping for skin care products, don’t be overwhelmed by vast quantity of sunscreen and skin care brands that are available to you – each one touting different buzz words to entice you into making a purchase. Skin care is very serious, especially during the summer when your skin is vulnerable to the ultraviolet rays from the sun (UV-A or UV-B) that can cause damage and even cancer when skin is unprotected.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are reported in America each year, and about 90% of these cases are caused by the ultraviolet rays from the sun. One out of five people will develop skin cancer at some point in their life. Skin cancer is the most preventable form of cancer that there is!
So – before you head outdoors this summer, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends these simple steps to protect your skin:
- Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 as part of your daily morning routine, or at least 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, especially after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Be mindful of how long you will be outside and what you will be doing. Sun rays are most harmful to the skin between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you are going to be outside for an extended period of time, a broad spectrum UV-A/UV-B resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 should be applied. If you are going swimming or may perspire while outside, choose a water resistant sunscreen.
- Use an umbrella while at the beach or sitting in your backyard to provide protection against those ultraviolet rays.
- Wear a hat and consider your clothing. Synthetic and semi-synthetic fabrics filter out sun rays, where cotton and linen do not. Choose tightly woven bright or dark colored clothing which offers the best defense against the rays of the sun.
- Choose protective sunglasses that give your eyes the best coverage, like wrap around glasses. This can be difficult because sunglasses are often times designed for fashion and not protection. You could also talk to your Optometrist about lenses for your glasses that darken when you are in the sun, acting as sunglasses.
- Avoid tanning booths and beds. A tan is the skin’s way of preventing sun damage by creating a wall of dark pigment to protect the skin. No tan is healthy or safe! Tanning bulbs emit rays that are 12 times more powerful than the sun. People who “go tanning” increase their risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 2.5%, basal cell carcinoma by 1.5%, and melanoma by over 3%. They are also at greater risk for premature aging and wrinkling of the skin.
- Use transparent window film on the side and rear windows of your vehicle. While windshields have been treated to block UV rays, other windows in vehicles have not. This window film will block 100% of UV rays.
- Eat foods rich in anti-oxidants to help to fight free radicals that can cause skin damage due to the sun, as well as premature aging. Foods like fish, red and orange fruits and vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and other greens, and green or black tea can help protect the skin from damage and from developing some cancers.
- Examine your skin regularly for any changes and make sure you visit your doctor on a regular basis to have a professional skin exam.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people with fair skin, lightly colored hair, or those who take medications that make them sensitive to the sun, have the greatest risk of getting sunburns. To ease the pain or discomfort from sunburn, the CDC recommends you apply a cold compress to the area, take acetaminophen or Tylenol if approved by your doctor for inflammation, or apply cooling gel to the affected area. The most effective is 100% Aloe Vera from the store or straight from the plant that is chilled prior to use.
For more information, contact HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at email@example.com, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our wellness center at 213 Harrison Street Ext. in Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.