Do you have your sun screen on? With the weather improving it’s time to protect yourself from skin cancer. Friday, May 24 is designated “Don’t Fry Day” by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention. Memorial Day weekend is usually the start of the swimming pool season and time to make we don’t get a sun burn. Be sure to wear sun screen.
Not sure when you really need to have sun screen on? Check the weather reports for the Sun Intensity value. It ranges from 0-10+ and you should be wearing sun screen starting at 3. The Record-Herald’s weather forecast includes the sun intensity. You can also down load an app to check the sun intensity at https://www.epa.gov/enviro/uv-index-mobile-app
Most of us get too much sun because we don’t take precautions. Did you know that it is estimated that 90 percent of the new cases of skin cancer each year are preventable if we would just practice skin safety measures?
Follow these few simple practices to make a difference.
– Wear sunscreen. Sunscreen protects the skin from burning as quickly. Select a board spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30. Remember to apply it 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours or sooner if swimming or perspiring on a hot day. You can use spray, crème, gel or stick but be sure to rub it into the skin after applying. Be sure to apply sunscreen on your children over six months of age. It is best to keep infants and young children out of the sun as much as possible.
– Protect your lips with lip balm that contains sunscreen. Some medications increase sun sensitivity so be careful if you are on medication.
– If possible stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the highest. Most weather reports are giving the sun intensity. Remember that even on cloudy days you can get sunburn so protect yourself. Avoid sunlamps and tanning salons as these do damage to your skin like the sun and can be more intense than the sun.
– Wear a broad brim hat. A three-inch brim is recommended to provide the best protection. Forget the baseball caps! They do not provide protection for the ears and back of the neck. A sun safe hat is dense enough to block UV rays from the sun. Tight dense weaves are best.
– Wear sunglasses that filter out the UV radiation. They should provide 99 to 100 percent UVA and UVB protection. Look for a sticker when buying but most of the cheap ones provide as much protection as expensive ones. UVA and UVB protection is clear and not determined by the color of the sunglasses. Many skin cancers occur on the eye lids, so help protect yourself with sunglasses.
– Consider clothing choices. Long sleeve shirts and pants provide additional protection but can be hot on warm days. Looser styles and woven rather than knits are usually cooler to wear. Light colors provide the least UV protection. A wet white T-shirt is no protection against UV rays. Darker colors provide a high UV protection but are hot to wear, so find a medium color, which will provide some protection with comfort. Detergents with optical brighteners can increase the UV resistance of fabrics. This can help provide some extra protection, but you still need to wear sunscreen. You can also purchase sun safe clothing.
Making some changes can help reduce your risk of skin cancer and damaged skin, which gives the wrinkled leathery look as you age. “Don’t Fry” on May 24 or anytime the rest of the summer.
Pat Brinkman is Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator for Ohio State University Extension.