July is UV Safety Month
July means fun in the sun for many people. But with the beach and barbecue weather comes higher exposure to harmful Ultraviolet (UV) rays, which are the main cause of skin cells turning into cancer.
Taking extra precaution with your skin this summer is more important than ever, as the rate of skin cancer has increased dramatically over the last decade. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. More skin cancers are diagnosed each year than all other cancers combined.
As part of July’s UV Safety Month, let’s explore how UV radiation can cause skin cancer as well as ways to prevent overexposure to harmful rays. Yet we need some UV exposure to maintain vitamin D levels.
- Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is electromagnetic radiation from the sun and manufactured sources like tanning beds and welding torches.
- Everyone’s skin and eyes can be affected by the sun and other forms of ultraviolet (UV) rays.
- People with light skin are much more likely to have their skin damaged by UV rays (and to get skin cancer), but darker-skinned people, including people of any ethnicity, can also be affected.
- You don’t need x-rays or blood tests to find skin cancer early – just your eyes and a mirror.
- The use of UV-emitting tanning devices, including sunlamps and tanning beds, as carcinogenic (or having the potential to cause cancer to humans.)
How to Protect Skin
- Protect your skin with clothing that covers your arms and legs.
- If you’re going to be outside, simply staying in the shade, especially during midday hours, is one of the best ways to limit your UV exposure to sunlight.
- Wear sunglasses that block UV rays to protect your eyes and the skin around them.
- Use sunscreen to help protect skin that isn’t covered with clothing.
Regularly use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30. It’s the best way to prevent sun burns, premature aging, and skin cancer. You’ll want to apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 2 hours. Be sure to use sunscreen on any area that will be exposed, including your neck, lips, ears, and even your scalp. You can also wear a hat for added sun protection.
You need to be especially careful in the sun if you:
- Have had skin cancer before.
- Have a family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma.
- Have many moles, irregular moles, or large moles.
- Have freckles and burn before tanning.
- Have fair skin, blue or green eyes, or blond, red, or light brown hair.
- Have certain autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, or lupus).
- Have had an organ transplant.
- Take medicines that make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
If you’re still not sure if your mole or skin spot you have is harmless or not, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor. Early detection can help prevent the spread of cancer, so don’t be afraid to reach out with any questions or concerns. When it comes to your health, it’s always a good idea to play it safe.
If you have any questions or you would like to schedule an appointment, please call 786-377-7777.
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