4 Ways to Protect Yourself from Harmful Rays

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Nicole Kajzer

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May is melanoma and skin cancer protection month. Check out these four easy steps to protect your skin all year long! 

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May is melanoma and skin cancer protection month. Check out these four easy steps to protect your skin all year long! 

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Melanoma is the third most common cancer among women ages 20 - 39 and the second most common cancer in men ages 20- 39. According to the World Health Organization, about 132,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed worldwide each year, and in the United States, the percentage of people who develop melanoma has more than doubled in the past 20 years. There are many risk factors for melanoma that are out of your control, like family history, having fair skin, and old age. However, there are other risks that you can avoid including ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. In fact, while UV rays make up only a very small portion of the sun’s rays, they are the main cause of the damaging effects of the sun on the skin. Here are four easy ways to reduce UV ray exposure during the upcoming spring and summer months.

Use Sunscreen

“Everyone should wear sunscreen as anyone can get skin cancer regardless of age, gender, or race”, says Health Initiatives health educator, Sarah Morales. When looking for an effective type of sunscreen, there are multiple characteristics to consider. First, make sure that you choose a broad spectrum sunscreen which protects the skin from UVA and UVB rays. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause cancer, however, UVA rays penetrate more deeply into the skin. Also, make sure your sunscreen has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 (blocks 97% of UVB rays) or more and is water resistant. Even on cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun's UV rays can penetrate your skin. Make sure to apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before heading outside and don't forget to reapply every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating excessively!

Seek Shade

An obvious, but important way to reduce sun exposure is to avoid staying in direct sunlight for long periods of time. Keep in mind that UV light is the strongest from 10 am to 4 pm, but if you are unsure about how strong the sun’s rays are, you can use the shadow test! Simply find your shadow and see if it is shorter than you are. If it is, then the sun’s rays are at their strongest.

Wear Protective Clothing

Put on your hat, shirt, and shades. With additional clothing, you are able to create a barrier between yourself and UV rays. Dark, tightly woven, and dry fabric typically provides the most protection. Also, keep in mind that a hat with a wider brim will be able to protect not only your head but also some parts of your neck as well! When finding an effective pair of sunglasses, look for the “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” and “UV absorption up to 400 nm” labels which signify that the glasses block 99% to 100% of the sun’s rays.

Avoid Tanning Beds and Sun Lamps

Tanning lamps give out both UVA and UVB rays which can cause long-term skin damage. Tanning bed usage has been linked to an increased risk of melanoma, especially if started before the age of 30. If you want a tan, consider using a sunless tanning lotion instead, which can darken your skin without the increased risk of skin cancer.

The sun can affect your skin in many ways which is why it is important to protect yourself from both UVA and UVB rays! Before you step outside during these warm summer months, remember to protect your skin.

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Health and Well-Being, Health Services

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Institute and Campus
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Keywords
health promotion, Stamps, suncare, Daily Digest, health and wellbeing
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  • Created By: Christine Kapurch
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: May 9, 2019 - 9:57am
  • Last Updated: May 9, 2019 - 9:57am