Sun Safety

It’s mid-July, and it’s a scorcher out there. How do we keep ourselves and family safe from the sun’s harmful rays? According to the FDA, following these simple guidelines will lower your risk for sunburn, skin cancer, and early skin aging.

*Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

*Cover exposed skin with long sleeves, hats with wide brims, and sunglasses. 

*Use broad spectrum UVA and UVB sunscreens of 15 SPF or higher.

Sunscreen should be applied liberally to all exposed skin. Pay close attention to the nose, ears, neck, hands, feet, and lips. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more often if you are swimming or sweating. No sunscreen is waterproof. You should follow the directions on the bottle for guidance on when to reapply if swimming or sweating. If you have thin hair, apply sunscreen to your head or wear a hat.  Staying in the shade will also help reduce your risk of sun damage. Up to 80% of the sun’s damaging rays can get through the clouds on overcast days. 

Risk Factors

The following people are at higher risk for sunburn and skin damage.

*Pale skin

*Red, blonde, or light brown hair

*Past skin cancer diagnosis

*Family history of skin cancers

If you are taking over-the-counter or prescribed medication, check with your doctor or pharmacist about possible sun sensitivity from these drugs. 

Protect Your Eyes

Your eyes risk increased exposure to the sun’s rays when they reflect on water, sand, and even snow in the winter. Wearing sunglasses dramatically reduces harmful UV exposure. Choose sunglasses with a UV400 rating or “100% UV Protection” on the label. Do not wear sunglasses without a UV rating. The darkness of the lens does not indicate the level of UV protection. Children should also wear UV-protecting sunglasses. Toy sunglasses, although fun, may not provide the protection needed. The price of the sunglasses does not indicate the amount of UV protection. Pricier does not always mean better. A hat and sunscreen give your eyes added protection. 

What About Vitamin D?

Did you know that 42% of adults and 50% of children in the US are deficient in vitamin D?

The human body makes vitamin D3 (the active form of vitamin D) by absorbing the sun’s UVB rays and interacting with a protein called 7-DHC on the skin. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, using SPF daily does not directly correlate with Vitamin D deficiencies. Even proponents of unprotected skin exposure recommend only 10-15 minutes of unprotected skin three times weekly. This amount of exposure can cause damage. There are alternative ways to increase Vitamin D while still protecting yourself. You can obtain adequate Vitamin D through diet and supplements—fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified foods, and (gag) cod liver oil. You should talk to your doctor about your Vitamin D needs and how much they recommend you take to meet them. 

Summer is short in Maine. Go out, have fun, and be safe!