Health — June 9, 2021 at 2:39 pm

Summer Safety

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It’s almost summer and if you’re anything like me that means you’re spending as much time outdoors as possible. A little sunshine on your shoulders and vitamin D sounds great, but before you get out there, let’s take a look at some sun info, shall we?

The sun is an over 4.5 billion-year-old star that provides energy, light, and heat to Earth. It also plays a big part in the weather that so many of us Northern Hemisphere dwellers long await in the summer and is also known as that bright thing your parents always told you not to stare at.

Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) radiation with the two most common types being UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays account for roughly 95% of the sun’s rays and emit the lowest amount of energy whereas UVB rays account for close to the remaining 5% and have a medium amount of energy.

Both types can damage your skin as well as your eyes.  UVA rays are more likely to tan skin and cause wrinkles while UVB rays directly damage DNA and cause most skin cancers. They are also responsible for eye conditions like corneal sunburn and cataracts.

The sun is out year-round but its angle during the spring and summer months causes the UV intensity to be highest, so if outside be sure to remember these things:

Apply Sunscreen A sunscreen with broad spectrum protection will help block both UVA and UVB rays. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)it’s best to use something with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. The higher the SPF the better the protection. No sunscreen is waterproof and will need to be reapplied every 2 hours or so. There are a multitude of options so if you prefer something more natural opt for one with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. When applying don’t forget those easy to miss spots like the tops of the ears, feet, and head.

Cover Up When it’s hot the last thing you want to think about is adding more clothing to the mix but tightly knit fabrics and those with built in SPF can help prevent sun damage. This is also a great excuse to accessorize too; wide brimmed hats and sunglasses are all the rage this time of year! Make sure you buy sunglasses with 100% UV protection to protect those peepers.

Seek Shade UV exposure is highest between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun is at its peak it’s best to avoid it directly. Find shade under a tree or awning, and when you hit the beach bring an umbrella or portable shelter. Just remember, even if you’re sitting inside a car or near a window, UVA rays can still pass through glass.

Be Aware Sun can reflect off many surfaces so even though you put on that hat or those sunglasses, if you’re in or near water your face may be getting more sun than you think. Other reflective surfaces include sand and concrete, who knew? Some  medications can also make your skin more sensitive to the sun. A few common ones are antibiotics, antihistamines, oral contraceptives, as well as NSAIDs. If you aren’t sure, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Written by Maegan Carrasquillo, Staff Writer

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