UV Safety Month
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has named July as Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month. The main goal of this observance is to educate on the importance of protecting your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays. This year is it especially important to spread awareness. Due to COVID-19, outdoor activities that adhere to social distancing guidelines, such as camping, hiking, biking, etc., are on the rise. While staying active and spending time outdoors comes with many health benefits, it also exposes you to harmful UV rays and proper precautions need to be taken.
What Exactly is UV Light?
Many people don’t realize that ultraviolet light is actually a form of radiation. As explained by the Oncology Nursing Society, the main source of UV radiation is the sun, although it can come from man-made sources such as tanning beds. UV radiation is classified into three types by wavelength: UVA, UVB, and UVC. The ozone layer is a protective layer in Earth’s stratosphere that blocks all UVC light, but UVB and UVA light pass through it. UVA penetrates deeply into the skin and is the cause of wrinkling and leathering of the skin. UVB is the type of radiation that causes sunburns. Frequent, long-term exposure to both UVA and UVB can lead to skin cancer.
How to Protect Yourself Against UV Radiation
- Wear Sunscreen: Check out our blog post, “Tips for Choosing the Safest Sunscreen this Summer,” to learn how to pick the best sunscreen and how to properly apply it for maximum protection.
- Cover Up: Hats, shirts, shorts, and pants protect the skin from harmful UV rays. If you will be out in the sun for an extended amount of time, such as hiking, consider wearing lightweight, moisture wicking long sleeves and hiking pants for the most coverage.
- Wear Sunglasses: Sunglasses are so much more than an accessory. Choose a high-quality pair with UV protection and wear them anytime you are out in the sun.
- Plan Ahead: 10am-2pm is when UV light is the strongest, so whenever possible, plan your activities for the morning or evening to avoid being exposed during this time.
- Spend time in the shade: Find naturally shady areas to relax in and if you can’t find any, use an umbrella or a tent to create your own.
- Reapply Often: If you will be out in the sun, make sure to reapply sunscreen often!
- Think Smart: Avoid tanning beds, sun lamps, tanning pills, or any tan enhancing products as they are known to increase your risk of skin damage.