Get into the sunscreen routine this summer

Get into the sunscreen routine this
summer
July is UV Safety Awareness
Month

As the sun-splashed days of summer surround us, Missouri
health officials are urging residents to protect their skin and their eyesight
from the damaging effects of the sun.

Bright sunshine provides great opportunities for outdoor fun
and work. But the sun’s ultraviolet light also increases the risk of cataracts
and fosters about 20,000 new cases of skin cancer every year in
Missouri,

About 95 percent of skin cancer cases are caused by exposure
to ultraviolet light, nearly all of which comes from sunlight. Missourians who
spend time outdoors, health officials said, should make sunscreen and a nifty
pair of shades part of their summertime routine, health officials
said.

“Many Missourians spend much of their summer outside, whether
working, gardening, swimming or participating in sports and other activities,”
said Margaret Donnelly, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior
Services. “Wearing sunglasses can save a person’s vision and using sunscreen on
a regular basis can prevent painful sunburns while reducing the chances of
developing skin cancer.”

July is UV Safety Awareness Month to highlight the dangers of
ultraviolet light. The Missouri health department offers the following sun
safety tips:

  • Use a sunscreen with an Sun
    Protection Factor of at least 15. It should be applied at least 20 minutes prior
    to being exposed to the sun and reapplied every two hours. An SPF of 15 filters
    out approximately 95 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. An SPF of 30 is
    slightly better but offers only about three percent more protection.
  • Avoid the sun between 10
    a.m. and 4 p.m. when possible.
  • Wear protective clothing,
    including a long-sleeve shirt, pants and a hat with a
    wide brim to shade the face, head, ears and neck.

  • Wear sunglasses that block
    100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays to protect the eyes. Exposure to bright sunlight
    may increase the risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration
    and growths on the eye, including cancer.

Even 15 minutes in the sun without protection can harm the
skin. Skin turning pink, red or brown is a sign that damage has occurred,
increasing the risk for skin cancer in the future.

While most skin cancer can be cured if it is detected early,
prevention lessens the need for surgery to remove the cancer and even saves
lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 10,000
people die from skin cancer every year in the United States.

“Whether you’re having a picnic or planting crops, watching a
baseball game or watering your lawn, you need to protect yourself from the sun,”
said Susan Thomas, manager for the health department’s Comprehensive Cancer
Control program. “Taking a little extra time to apply sunscreen on a regular
basis will help keep your skin healthy and could add years to your
life.”

For more information about preventing skin cancer, visit the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/cancer/nscpep/index.htm.
Information about protecting the eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays can be
found at the American Academy of Ophthalmology web site: www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/summer.cfm.