Sun exposure and your health

Sun exposure and your health
Tori Chebere, 17, left, and Sarah Marcano, 18, right, cool off at the edge of the ocean in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn in New York, Thursday, June 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

With the increased time outdoors, people inevitably catch too many UV rays and get a sunburn. A report from the Centers for Disease Control said that over the years sunburns and over-exposure to UV rays can cause age spots, wrinkles, cataracts and increase the risk of skin cancers like melanoma.

Below is a list of ways that the CDC provided to help you get that time outside without scorching your skin.


Preventative Measures

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Limiting time out in the sun is important, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV(B) rays are most intense. Also be aware that the rays can still do damage on cloudy days, in the shade or even when you sit under an umbrella.

 

Wear Protective Clothing

Even though it is hot, one sure fire way to protect against the sun is to wear long sleeves, pants or hats. The tighter woven or darker the fabric, the better. Sunglasses that provide 100% protection from UV radiation can protect your eyes from getting damage as well.

 

Sunscreens

Sunscreens provide protection from UV rays and are usually designated by their SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, which refers to how much added protection from UVB rays a person gets while wearing it.

Physical sunscreens have particles like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in them that physically reflect UV rays off of the skin. The CDC recommends these for people who burn easy.

Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays, rather than reflect them. The most effective chemical sunblocks use at least three of these active ingredients (one from each category).

PABA derivatives, salicylates (homosalate, octyl salicylate, or cinnamates (octyl methoxycinnamate, cinoxate) protect against UVB absorption.

Benzophenones (oxybenzone, dioxybenzone, sulisobenzone) for shorter-wavelength UVA protection

Avobenzone, ecamsule, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide for the remaining UVA spectrum

 

The CDC advises people who are using sunscreen to:

  • Use a sunscreen that is at least SPF 15
  • Find a water and sweat-resistant sunscreen
  • Apply to all exposed skin 30 minutes before going out in the sun
  • Use at least one ounce of sunscreen to cover the skin
  • Don't forget to cover ears, scalp, lips, neck, tops of feet and hands.
  • Reapply waterproof sunblocks after one or two hours of swimming, sweating or toweling off.

It is also important to make sure that the sunscreen being used has not expired. Many sunscreens are not effective after one or two years.

 

Treatment for Sunburns

Those suffering from a sunburn should keep hydrated and stay indoors, or in a cool, shaded place away from the sun. Moisturizing creams, aloe vera and some painkillers can relieve some of the pain and fever experienced with severe sunburns.

 

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Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control