Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Year Round Sun Protection

Just because it's a cloudy day or just because it's not summer doesn't mean you don't need to worry about UV exposure. You should be taking steps every day, no matter the weather or time of year, to keep yourself protected from the sun's harmful rays. Here are some tips from the Skin Cancer Foundation to keep yourself protect year round:

Use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher whenever you spend time outdoors.

  • This applies to all outdoor activities: athletics, shopping, picnicking, walking or jogging, gardening, even waiting for a bus.
  • Choose a sunscreen with ingredients that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Apply liberally and evenly to all exposed skin. The average adult in a bathing suit should use approximately one ounce of sunscreen per application. Not using enough will effectively reduce the product's SPF and the protection you get.
  • Be sure to cover often-missed spots: lips, ears, around eyes, neck, scalp if hair is thinning, hands, and feet.
  • Reapply at least every 2 hours, more often if some of the product may have been removed while swimming, sweating, or towel-drying.
  • Choose a product that suits your skin and your activity. Sunscreens are available in lotion, gel, spray, cream, and stick forms. Some are labeled as water resistant, sweatproof, or especially for sports; as fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, or especially for sensitive skin or children.

Cover up.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Tightly woven fabrics and dark colors, such as deep blue and black, or bright colors, such as orange and red, offer more protection. If you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through too. Water makes fabrics more translucent, so do not rely on a wet T-shirt.
  • A broad-brimmed hat goes a long way toward preventing skin cancer in often-exposed areas like the neck, ears, scalp, and face. Opt for a 3-4 inch brim that extends all around the hat. Baseball caps and visors shade the face but leave neck, lower face, and ears exposed.
  • UV-blocking sunglasses with wraparound or large frames protect your eyelids and the sensitive skin around your eyes, common sites for skin cancer and sun-induced aging. Sunglasses also help reduce the risk of cataracts later in life.

Seek the shade.

  • Be aware, however, that sunlight bouncing off reflective surfaces can reach you even beneath an umbrella or a tree.

Never seek a tan.

Stay away from tanning parlors and artificial tanning devices.

  • The UV radiation emitted by indoor tanning lamps is many times more intense than natural sunlight. Dangers include burns, premature aging of the skin, and the increased risk of skin cancer.

Protect your children and teach them sun safety at an early age.

  • Healthy habits are best learned young. Because skin damage occurs with each unprotected exposure and accumulates over the course of a lifetime, sun safety for children should be a priority.

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