Safe Sun

Ultraviolet Radiation

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight and tanning  beds is unquestionably the major preventable cause of skin cancer, and  is on the Food and Drug Administration’s list of known carcinogens.  One-half of all cancers are skin cancers. UV radiation also weathers  skin, and causes wrinkles and pigment changes.

Sunlight contains heat, visible light, and  ultraviolet (invisible) radiation. Ultraviolet radiation has short-wave  UVB, which tends to Burn the skin, and longer-wave UVA, which Ages the  skin. UVB causes more skin cancer than UVA.

Ultraviolet Index Forecast

Nine Tips on how to “Practice Safe Sun”

  1. Avoid direct sunlight on your skin during peak  sunlight hours (when your shadow is shorter than you are). Two-thirds of  each day’s UVB radiation reaches the earth between 10 AM and 2 PM, when  filtration by the atmosphere is the least. UVA radiation penetrates the  atmosphere better, and is more constant over the day. The morning or  evening is the best time to be outside.

  2. Cover up with loose, cool long-sleeved shirts and  pants, and a hat with at least a 3-inch rim all the way around.  Sunglasses that block 100% UV help protect your eyes against cataracts.

  3. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (meaning it screens  both UVA and UVB) with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 on  all exposed skin, even on hazy days. Apply liberally about 30 minutes  prior to sun exposure, and reapply after swimming or excessive sweating.

  4. Sunlamps and tanning booths use UVA radiation,  which tends to cause the skin to wrinkle, thin and sag prematurely. UVA  does not cause as much skin cancer as UVB, but it damages the skin more  deeply.

  5. Avoid long periods of direct sunlight on your  skin, especially if it is unusual for you to be out that long. This type  of sunlight exposure is linked more to skin cancer. Be aware of how  long you are outside.

  6. Please avoid sunburn at any age. The majority of  my skin cancer patients have had sunburns. Sunburn is probably the  leading preventable cause of melanoma.

  7. Please keep infants under six months out of direct  sun and covered by protective clothing. Apply sunscreen beginning at  six months of age.

  8. Habits acquired in childhood carry throughout  life. One of the most important is sun protection. Approximately 80  percent of our lifetime sun exposure is acquired in the first 18 years.

  9. Be aware of reflected sun off snow, sand, and water.

Sunscreens are important to wear, and reapply often!

Winter Exposure Risks Snow reflects sunlight very efficiently, and you can get sunburned in  winter by the combination of direct and reflected sunlight. In addition,  if you happen to be skiing, sunlight in the mountains is filtered by  one mile less atmosphere than in Omaha, so not using sunscreen on your  skiing trip can result in a nasty sunburn.

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