A relaxing day outdoors soaking up some of the sun’s rays is how many people prefer to spend their free time when the weather allows. While the very vision of a warm summer afternoon spent outdoors can invoke positive feelings, it’s important that people take protective measures before going outside and continue to do so while they’re out there. According to the American Cancer Society, most skin cancers are the result of exposure to ultraviolet rays in sunlight. UV rays are a type of radiation that do not have enough energy to penetrate deeply into the body. As a result, they primarily affect the skin. Overexposure to these rays can lead to skin cancer.
Protection from UV Rays
The ACS notes that there are no safe UV rays, so it’s imperative that people take UV protection seriously. The following are some of the many ways to protect yourself while still enjoying sunny days outdoors.
• Go out at the right times of day. The ACS notes that UV rays are at their strongest in the middle of the day between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so staying inside during these hours can protect your skin. This is especially important in the spring and summer, as the ACS says UV rays are stronger during these seasons than other times of year.
• Employ the shadow test when going outside. It may not seem especially scientific, but the shadow test is a simple way for anyone to gauge how strong UV rays from the sun are at any given moment. According to the ACS, if your shadow is shorter than you, that means the sun’s rays are at their strongest. This simple test can help people immediately determine how strong the sun’s rays are, compelling them to be extra cautious if necessary.
• Apply sunscreen early and reapply often. The ACS recommends using sunscreens with broad spectrum protection that protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays, and applying them before leaving the house and reapplying often while outdoors. When choosing a sunscreen, choose one with a minimum sun protection factor, or SPF, of 30. Understanding SPF can help people recognize the importance of reapplication. When an SPF 30 product is applied correctly, a person gets the equivalent of one minute of UVB ray exposure for each 30 minutes he or she spends in the sun. So one hour in the sun wearing SPF 30 sunscreen is the same as spending two minutes totally unprotected. Reapplying SPF 30 sunscreen often can ensure you are protected at all times.
• Wear a hat. Hats with a brim that is at least two to three inches all around protects vulnerable areas such as the eyes, forehead, nose, ears, and scalp. Choose a hat with a dark, non-reflective underside, as such a hat can lower the amount of UV rays that reach the face from reflective surfaces such as water.
Sun protection is important year-round, and especially so during spring and summer.