Keeping Your Skin in the Game
It is that time of year again when the days seem to stretch for an eternity and the sun tracking high in the sky makes it challenging to find those cool shady spots. Keeping your skin safe from damaging ultra-violet (UV) rays is something essential to include in your day-to-day summertime routine. Repeated exposure to UV rays with unprotected skin can eventually lead to skin cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), overexposure to UV rays causes most skin cancers. Tanning beds are especially dangerous, and our societies association with tanned skin as a sign of good health is a false narrative. The tanning process is the result of UV rays damaging the skin.
There is also a belief that mother nature provides UV protection on cloudy and or cooler days, but this is a misconception. The fact is UV rays can still reach and damage our unprotected skin even on cloudy days. Being on a boat or near water creates additional challenges because of the ray’s ability to reflect off the water. A person wearing a hat that protects them from the sun overhead can still get burned in the face from rays reflecting off the water.
If you are outside unprotected for a prolonged period, you should seek a shady area where you can limit exposure. Even though it seems counter-intuitive during hot weather, clothes with a tight weave covering your arms and legs offer the best protection. Hats additionally help shade the face, ears, and neck.
For additional protection on exposed skin, the CDC recommends using a broad-spectrum SPF 15 or higher. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and the number 15 refers to the time of the protection. For example, if your unprotected skin turns red in 20 minutes, an SPF 15 would give you 15 times the protection or 300 minutes of protection from burning. An SPF 15 blocks 93% of damaging UVB rays from reaching your skin.
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