We all know of the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. We stock up on sunscreen throughout the summer season and don’t allow our children out without first slathering it all over their small bodies. So why are melanoma rates still on the rise? Experts have some clues and have provided new sunscreen guidelines. Here’s what you need to know before hitting Long Island parks and beaches this summer for fun in the sun!
First, it’s important to note that sunscreen is not the last word in protection. The best way to avoid sun damage is to couple protection with avoidance. We can already hear you groaning! Don’t worry, we’re not advising you to forego outdoor activities, but there are steps you can take to avoid the sun while still enjoying it.
The most dangerous time of day for sun exposure is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Daylight Savings Time. It isn’t realistic to schedule activities for exclusively before and after those times. Instead try to seek shade whenever possible throughout a day spent outdoors. If spending the day at the beach, invest in a beach umbrella that protects against UV rays. Wear cover ups and clothing that protect your arms and legs, and always wear a hat.
Second, it’s important that you understand the new guidelines and what they mean for you and your family. One significant change made is that sunscreens labeled “broad spectrum protection” have to be proven to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Previously that term had no meaning.
What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays? UVA rays are less likely to cause sunburn, but they penetrate your skin deeper than UVB rays and are more responsible for damage like early aging, wrinkles, and sun spots. UVB rays do not penetrate as deeply as UVA rays; therefore they cause your skin to burn on the outer layers and cause skin cancer.
Companies are no longer allowed to label their sunscreen “waterproof.” They are only allowed to claim it is “water resistant.” Experts suspect that people are not reapplying sunscreen often enough throughout the day thinking, incorrectly it turns out, that the sunscreen holds up after a swim.
What about SPF? SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The number assigned to a product equals the number of minutes after being applied for which the sunscreen is effective. For example, a product that is SPF 30 will protect you for 30 minutes after being applied. However, experts note that number only works if the correct amount of sunscreen is used . . . and people frequently do not apply enough. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using one ounce of sunscreen per adult. One ounce is equal to a full shot glass.
Be sure to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before heading outdoors since it takes time to absorb into the skin and become effective. Choose and wear sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays. Avoid the use of sunscreen sprays. The FDA is still testing whether or not they are effective; the main concern is that not enough product gets onto the skin to be effective. In addition, they are concerned about the contents being inhaled into the lungs.
Summer is a time for fun in the beautiful outdoors. Be sure to protect yourself and your children this summer on Long Island so that the fun doesn’t result in a dangerous burn!
By Allison Profeta for ER-Dox. ER-DOX offers immediate, walk-in Urgent Medical Care at our Massapequa and Amityville locations. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, join them on Pinterest for health and wellness news, tips, and trends.
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