MHP Encourages Sun Safety
With hot, summer weather comes a new set of safety precautions everyone should recognize in order to maintain healthy skin and reduce the incidence of skin cancer.
MHP Nurse Practitioner Lisa Nelson says, “It’s natural to want to be outside enjoying summer activities,” Nelson said. “For this reason, it’s important that you take the necessary precautions to prevent long-term damage to your skin.”
UV rays from the sun are known for causing sunburns, cataracts, immune system damage and skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, most UV rays are absorbed by the ozone layer, but enough of these rays pass through to cause serious skin damage.
Nelson recommends that people look for a sun block that states it has “broad spectrum” protection or blocks both UVA and UVB. Other important tips include:
- Buy a new sun block tube every summer. Never use sun block from last year. Sun block loses its protective qualities after nine months. If you keep your sun block in a car, boat or in the heat, it loses is protective qualities in three months.
- The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you wear an SPF of 15 when spending small amounts of time outside: jogging, walking, shopping and driving your vehicle.
- Wear a higher SPF when you are outside for prolonged amounts of time: boating, swimming, sporting events, mowing the yard and gardening.
Other general sun safety tips include:
- Apply sun block every two hours.
- An adult wearing a swim suit needs to apply about an ounce of sun block to be fully protected. A child needs to apply an amount equal the size of two quarters.
- Be sure to cover often-missed areas such as ears, lips, around the eyes, hair lines or scalp, necks, hands and feet.
- Wear UV blocking sunglasses to protect the thin tissue on your eyelids. Children also need to wear sunglasses.
- Broad-rimmed hats and tightly woven clothing are great when gardening or doing yard work.
- Try to avoid the strongest rays of the day (between 10 am and 4 pm). If you are unable to avoid them, apply sunscreen as often as possible or every two hours.
- Always have babies and infants in shaded areas or completely out of the sun
Nelson suggests that if you must get that bronze, summer glow, consider alternatives to sun tanning such as bronzing lotions or spray tanning. “Indoor tanning lamps can be just as dangerous as natural UV rays,” Nelson stressed, “You’re better off playing it safe with these sunless options.”