Published on May 25, 2012

Be Sun-Sensible This Summer

Genesis Cancer Care Institute suggests a simple routine to protect your skin and limit your risk of skin cancer during what is predicted to be a warm, sunny holiday weekend.

"Slip! Slop! Slap! ... and Wrap."

It may not be practical or fun to avoid the sunlight entirely but there are steps you can take outdoors to limit your exposure to harmful UV rays:
• Slip on a shirt.
• Slop on sunscreen.
• Slap on a hat.
• Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and sensitive skin around them.
These steps complement each other, and they provide the best protection when used together.

Cover up

When you are out in the sun, wear clothing to protect as much skin as possible.  Clothes provide different levels of UV protection, depending on many factors.  Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or long skirts cover the most skin and are the most protective.  Dark colors generally provide more protection than light colors.  A tightly woven fabric protects better than loosely woven clothing.  Dry fabric is generally more protective than wet fabric.

Use sunscreen

Sunscreen does not provide total protection, but it helps in reducing exposure to UV rays.

Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.  Apply sunscreen thickly ... "Slop it on!" and reapply frequently if you are exercising or going into the water.

Sunscreens labeled with SPFs as high as 100+ are available.  Higher numbers do mean more protection, but many people mistakenly think that a sunscreen with an SPF 45 rating would give 3 times as much protection as one with an SPF of 15.  Not true.  SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%.

Look for sunscreen labeled "broad-spectrum" to protect against UVA and UVB rays.

Wear a hat

A hat with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim all around provides the best protection for highly sensitive areas such as the forehead, head, nose and ears.

Consider a fishing hat that has flaps down the sides and back for maximum protection.

Sunglasses block UV rays

UV-blocking sunglasses are important for protecting the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as the eyes themselves.

Limit Exposure During Midday

Another way to limit UV exposure is to avoid being outdoors in sunlight too long.  UV rays are strongest when the sun is high in the sky, usually between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Be especially careful on the beach or in areas with snow because sand, water, and snow can reflect sunlight, increasing the amount of UV radiation you receive.  UV rays can also reach below the water's surface, so you can still get a burn even if you're in the water and feeling cool.

If you plan to be outdoors, you may want to check the UV Index for your area first.  The UV Index usually can be found in local newspaper, TV, radio, and online forecasts.

Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight and protected from the sun using hats and protective clothing.

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