The sun’s rays are powerful and potentially harmful, though there are ways to protect your skin and eyes when spending time outdoors.
The sun releases ultraviolet rays in the form of UVA, UVB and UVC; this radiation may cause damage to skin’s tissue, increasing the risk of developing skin cancer. Whether you work or play outside, it is important to take steps to prevent harmful damage to your skin. Avoid becoming sunburned, which can lead to premature aging of the skin, age spots and an increasing risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States and one in five Americans will develop some form in their lifetime.
Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, can develop anywhere on the body whether it is generally exposed to the sun or not. For men, this type of cancer develops on the head or neck. For women, it is more likely going to appear on the lower legs. Even though fair skin is a risk factor for skin cancer, anyone of any skin tone can develop melanoma.
Preventing skin cancer is a simple process that requires being aware of and prepared for sun exposure. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that a sunscreen marked SPF 15 will allow a person to stay outside 15 times longer than normal without burning. For maximum skin protection, the CDC recommends that sunscreen be applied at least 20 minutes before sun exposure and every two hours while outside. The performance of the sunscreen depends on wind, humidity, heavy sweat or getting in and out of water.
Other ways to protect from sun damage are to wear dark colored, tightly knit clothing and headwear that shades the face and eyes. Also avoid tanning outdoors or in a tanning bed because concentrated UV radiation is worse than incidental exposure. Finally, try to limit your sun exposure during peak hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its hottest.
“Avoid tanning outdoors or in a tanning bed because concentrated UV radiation is worse than incidental exposure.”
Like your skin, your eyes also suffer from harmful rays if left unprotected. Though sunglasses make the sunlight easier to bear, not all sunglasses protect from harmful radiation. Too much sun exposure to your eyes may cause them to become red, dry, or painful. Further, this may cause vision disorders such as cataracts and macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. The American Optometric Association recommends wearing sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation.