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How to Protect Yourself And Your Family From the Sun’s UV Rays

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We often hear commercials, along with our doctors and others, telling us it’s important to wear sunscreen when outside in the sun. These cautionary messages are meant to help protect us and/or loved ones from skin cancer which can be caused by too much sun exposure.

We understand we need to protect ourselves from the sun because it can potentially cause skin cancer, but do we understand how and why? The answer for most of us is no, not really. Most people understand the underlying concept not the actual in-depth reasons the sun can have this type of impact. So, this safety article will explore the scientific, as well as some medical reasons, of how and why the sun can have this type of possible devastating impact.

We understand we need to protect ourselves from the sun because it can potentially cause skin cancer, but do we understand how and why? (Adobe Stock)

To understand one must start with the term “ultraviolet radiation.” Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is a type of light. Sunlight has UV rays, along with other kinds of rays. Some light bulbs give off UV rays. UV light bulbs are used in tanning machines, some nail dryers, machines used by dermatologists, and more.

There are three types of UV rays. They are:

• UVA. These rays go into the skin more deeply than UVB rays. These play a major part in skin aging and wrinkling. They also contribute to the growth of skin cancer.
• UVB. These rays are the main cause of sunburn. They tend to damage the skin’s outer layers. These rays play a key role in the growth of skin cancer.
• UVC. These rays do not reach our skin. The Earth’s atmosphere absorbs UVC rays before they reach the surface.

With this additional knowledge you can make more informed decisions as it relates to the length of time you and others should spend directly in the sun. Since this a summer safety series all of the information is intertwined. Therefore, we will merge this safety article with last week’s safety article to continue the discussion about sunscreen safety tips.

Children under six months typically should not wear sunscreen. This is because infant skin is more sensitive than adult skin. To protect infants younger than six months, the American Association of Dermatology (AAD) recommends keeping them in the shade as much as possible; dressing them in protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat; and making sure they stay hydrated. The clothing should be lightly colored made of light airy material.

Remember sunscreen is only one tool in your UV safety toolbox. There are many ways to reduce your exposure to UV radiation. Experts recommend combing sunscreen use with wearing protective clothing, staying in the shade when possible, and avoiding outdoor activities when the sun is most intense. Keeping an Eye on Safety may require you to use a combination of all of these.