July is ultra violet (UV) radiation safety awareness month. UV radiation are invisible rays that are a part of the energy that is emitted by the sun. There are different types of UV rays based on how much energy they have. The main types of UV rays that can affect your skin are UVA and UVB rays. Both UVA and UVB rays can damage skin and cause skin cancer. Additionally, overexposure of the sun’s UV rays can damage the skin and cause different types of skin cancer.
Individuals are exposed to UV radiation through a variety of methods including sunlight, tanning beds and booths, and UV therapy amongst other methods. There are different factors that can affect UV exposure such as:
Time of day: UV rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm
Season of the year: UV rays are strongest during spring and summer months
Cloud cover: UV rays can get through to the ground, even on a cloudy day
Reflection off surfaces: UV rays can bounce off surfaces (water, sand, snow, or pavement), leading to an increase in UV exposure
Length of time skin is exposed: UV exposure depends on the amount of time your skin exposed and if your skin is protected with sunscreen or clothing
Protecting yourself from the sun is important for good health. Below are tips to protect your skin from the sun:
1. Wear sunscreen that provides both UVA and UVB protection and that has a SPF of at least 30
2. Limit exposure to tanning beds
3. Wear protective clothing such as brimmed hats, pants, long sleeved shirts, and sunglasses
Perform monthly self-skin examinations and yearly skin examinations by your provider to help identify melanoma early
Having your skin checked yearly by your provider is important, no matter your age. If you currently do not have a provider, you may search for one by visiting Franciscan Health’s website (www.franciscanhealth.org). We strive to be the leading wellness source for individuals looking to live a healthy lifestyle. Remember, be safe in the sun!