With summer in full swing and people everywhere heading outdoors to bask in the summer sunshine, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has declared July “UV Safety Month.” UV, or ultraviolet, rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation that is emitted by everything from welding torches to tanning beds to – you guessed it – the sun. In small doses, UV radiation can actually be quite beneficial to the body. It helps increase your production of vitamin D, can improve your mood, and can even help treat the skin condition psoriasis. But in excess, UV radiation can be extremely dangerous to your skin.
That’s because UV radiation is what is known as a carcinogen. Carcinogens are any substance that cause cancer in live tissue, such as cigarette smoke, asbestos and formaldehyde. Not only can UV radiation cause cancer, but it can also cause vision damage, premature aging and suppression of your immune system!
With all that said, there are ways to protect yourself from UV radiation this summer – and the rest of the year. Here’s how you can stay safe:
There’s an App for That
Download a UV index app on your smartphone so you know when UV rays are at their most potent. In areas with high air pollution, such as big cities, the UV index can increase significantly on hot days. The EPA’s “SunWise” app gives the current index, as well as the projected index throughout the day, so you always know when the radiation risk is highest. There are many UV apps to choose from – just check your phone’s app store and set the app to alert you when high UV days or times are approaching. Then try to stay indoors during those times if possible.
If you go outside or sit by a window, you need to apply sunblock every single day. If you must go outside during peak UV radiation, sunblock and protective clothing (hats, sunglasses, long sleeves if possible) are an absolute must. Be sure to choose a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunblock that filters the entire spectrum of UV rays.
Monitor Your Skin
If you aren’t already doing regular skin checks for yourself and your family, now is a great time to start. Watch for any changes in mole size and shape and for any sores or lesions that crust, bleed or will not heal. You should also visit Dr. Chau annually for regular screenings. In fact, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons recently recommended all Americans add a plastic surgeon to their medical team to keep the skin safe. After all, who better to remove damaged skin in the case of sun damage than a surgeon who specializes in keeping your skin looking young and beautiful?
Yes, we know how hard it can be to stay inside on a beautiful sunny day, but if you can, try to limit your time outdoors during peak UV radiation times, typically between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Be sure to consult your app or local weather to stay apprised on any high UV alerts, and stay indoors as much as possible during UV alert days.
If you do have non-cancerous signs of UV damage such as brown spots, wrinkles or crepey-looking skin, give Dr. Chau’s office a call today at 888-966-9471 and schedule a consultation to discuss the many options available for treating and protecting your skin from dangerous UV radiation.