July is National UV Safety Month
Summer is finally here and that means the days are longer and the sun’s rays are intense. Did you know that July is UV Safety Month? The physicians at Knoxville Dermatology Group wanted to take this opportunity with our monthly newsletter to remind our patients about the importance of skin health during July.
Every year, there are more new cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the U.S. than lung, prostate, colon and breast cancers combined. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime and each hour, one American dies from the disease. Unprotected exposure to UV radiation is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer and we wanted to share some ways you can take precautions this month.
Minimize Exposure –
The best way to protect skin from harmful UV rays is to stay out of the sun. We understand this isn’t always possible or conducive to outdoor summer plans so here are a few ways to minimize exposure even while outdoors.
1. Remember 10-4. If you do have to be outside, try to limit your exposure during the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This block of time is when the sun’s rays are most intense and also most harmful.
2. Wear proper clothing. Wearing clothes that will protect your skin from harmful UV rays is important. Long-sleeved shirts and pants are best. Also, protect your head and eyes with a hat and UV resistant sunglasses.
3. Use sunscreen. Apply sunscreen directly to all exposed skin. Make sure to select a product with broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Everyone over the age of 6 months should wear sunscreen daily. Even if you work indoors, there are chances you are exposed to UV radiation for brief periods during the day, especially if you work near windows. When enjoying outdoor summer activities, especially near water or sand, reapply sunscreen throughout the day. When swimming or sweating, remember the 1 to 2 rule, 1 ounce of sunscreen reapplied every 2 hours.
4. Don’t Burn. Sunburns can significantly increase a person’s risk of developing skin cancer in his or her lifetime. Avoid them at all costs. To track UV levels and avoid exposure when it is particularly high, the EPA has a helpful website where the predicted UV index is posted daily. You can even check what the UV index will be in your area with an interactive map feature.
Learn the Risk Factors –
UV exposure and sunburns, particularly those during childhood, are risk factors for melanoma. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and now one of the most common among adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 29. There are other UV-related skin disorders that can be troublesome besides melanoma. Actinic keratoses are skin growths that occur on body areas exposed to the sun such as face, hands, forearms and the skin around the neck and chest. A risk factor for squamous cell carcinoma, actinic keratoses appear as raised, reddish, rough-textured growths and should be given proper medical attention.
Another way that skin can be affected by UV rays is premature aging. Long term exposure to the sun can cause skin to become thick, wrinkled and leathery. Up to 90 percent of visible skin changes commonly attributed to aging are actually caused by the sun. That means that with proper protection from UV radiation, most premature aging of the skin can be avoided.
Anyone and everyone can get skin cancer, but people at the greatest risk are ones with light complexions, prone to freckles, individuals with blonde or red hair and ones with blue or green eyes.
The best way to protect your skin is to be aware of any and all changes that might occur and make annual appointments with a board certified dermatologist for examinations. We hope that with a little extra effort and some new awareness, you can have a happy and healthy July!
If you need more serious help with skin issues or something else that is troubling your skin, we are here to help. Skin health is an important part of total body wellness. Schedule an appointment today with one of our board certified physicians to get your skin the care it needs so it can reach its fullest, healthiest potential.
Contact Knoxville Dermatology Group at 865.690.9467.