En­joy that sum­mer sun­shine — safely

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

We’re in the midst of an­other swel­ter­ing South­ern Mary­land sum­mer — and all that goes with it, in­clud­ing out­door chores, recre­ational and ath­letic events and out­side hob­bies like walk­ing along our lo­cal beaches, gar­den­ing, hik­ing and bik­ing. That’s why it’s im­por­tant to ob­serve safe skin care prac­tices any time you plan to be out in those un­for­giv­ing UVs.

The kids have been long out of school now and won’t re­turn un­til after La­bor Day. But be­fore let­ting them out of the house each day and watch­ing them un­leash their pent-up sum­mer va­ca­tion en­ergy with a deep-end can­non­ball in the pool, let’s go over how best to keep their skin — and ours — safe from the sun’s harm­ful ul­tra­vi­o­let ra­di­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion, sunny days aren’t the only days to prac­tice best skin pro­tec­tion mea­sures; even on cloudy or hazy days, that big burn­ing ball of yel­low can reach you with its po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous rays. The hours be­tween 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are con­sid­ered the most haz­ardous time to be out­doors in the U.S., and UV rays are the most dam­ag­ing here dur­ing late spring and early sum­mer. Cer­tainly, we should all ex­er­cise cau­tion in the sun­light any time we are out­side, but these are the peak times of the day and year to be wary.

The CDC rec­om­mends the fol­low­ing sim­ple tips for guard­ing against skin can­cer this sum­mer: 1) Stay in the shade, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing those blis­ter­ing mid­day hours; 2) wear cloth­ing that cov­ers arms and legs if you must be out­side for the day, and wear a hat with a wide brim to help shield your face, head, ears and neck from sun dam­age; 3) wear sun­glasses — the best kind are a pair that wraps around and blocks both UVA and UVB rays; and 4) use sun­screen with a sun pro­tec­tion fac­tor (SPF) of 15 or higher and with both UVA and UVB pro­tec­tion.

An­other note on sun­screen: It wears off even­tu­ally. So you’ll want to reap­ply it ev­ery two hours if you’re in the sun any longer than that, as well as after swim­ming, sweat­ing or tow­el­ing off. Also, make sure to check the ex­pi­ra­tion date of any sun­screen you’ve had ly­ing around the house and planned on us­ing again this year. The CDC re­ports sun­screen with­out an ex­pi­ra­tion date has a shelf life of no longer than three years, and that life­span dwin­dles if it has been ex­posed to high tem­per­a­tures. Make sure what you’re us­ing is go­ing to be ef­fec­tive.

You don’t have to forgo your fa­vorite sum­mer­time ac­tiv­i­ties to keep your skin safe from the risks of can­cer. Just ex­er­cise a lit­tle com­mon sense and fol­low the ad­vice of health ex­perts, and that can go a long way to en­sur­ing you and your fam­ily stay well pro­tected.

For more de­tailed sun safety tips, go to www.cdc.gov/can­cer/skin/ba­sic_info/sun-safety.htm.

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