Good Samaritan Encourages Sun Safety

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.”

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