Most families were quarantined during the first part of summer and stayed
inside at their homes. As restrictions lifted and the weather got warmer,
everyone was eager to be outside. Being in the sun has great benefits;
however, the sun can also have harmful effects if the right precautions
are not taken. The start of the school year does not mean the end of summer.
Taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family will ensure
a safe, and fun time in the sun.
The sun increases a person’s Vitamin D levels that help with bone
growth and strength and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Increased Vitamin
D levels have also been associated with improved blood pressure and insulin
resistance. It also can help with chronic pain from rheumatologic diseases
like rheumatoid arthritis and induces the production of a protein that
helps bodies fight bacterial and viral infections.
Despite the benefits of sun exposure, there are also risks related to excessive
sun exposure without proper protection. “UV rays, particularly UVB
rays, have been found to contribute to increased risk of melanoma, basal
cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinomas,” said Good Samaritan
Oncologist Cassandra Lacher, DO, MHA. “In fact, skin cancers are
the most common cancers worldwide.”
It only takes a few bad sunburns in a person’s childhood or adulthood
to increase the risk of skin cancers. The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) recommends limiting the time outside to earlier or
later in the day to avoid the strongest and most harmful midday UV rays.
If one finds themselves outside during the hottest part of the day, they
can find ways to prevent a sunburn before it happens. Below are some helpful tips:
- Utilize long-sleeved shirts and long pants or skirts when possible.
- Wet clothes offer less protection than dry clothes, and darker colored
clothing is better than lighter colored.
- Find a hat that will cover your ears, face, scalp and neck.
- Wear sunglasses which can help protect from cataracts.
“Of course, it is so important to always, always apply sunscreen
anytime you will be outside,” said Dr. Lacher. “UV rays can
still cause skin damage even on a cloudy or cool day. Sunscreens with
SPF 25 or greater and UVA/UVB protection offer the greatest sun shield.”
Dr. Lacher also recommends applying sunscreen to children every time they
go outside. Applying it at least 30 minutes before going out in the sun
will help provide greater protection.
She also states that it is important to note any darkening of the skin
that is related to skin damage from the sun, whether someone has a related
burn or not. It can take 12 hours for skin to reveal the extent of sun
damage, so if an adult or child is turning pink in the sun, it is time
to take a break from the sun exposure that day to prevent any further damage.
“As always, please contact your physician if there are any changes
in your skin or if you notice a mole that is changing or growing,”
said Dr. Lacher. “Have fun, but protect your family’s skin
so that you can enjoy being outside for many years to come.”