Q&A: What Do I Need to Know About UV Safety?

stock footage sun rays Q&A: What Do I Need to Know About UV Safety? Photo

July is UV Safety Month. As we’ve reached the summer solstice, it’s important to be aware of the harmful UV rays that are currently at their peak. Understanding what UV rays are, why they can be dangerous, and how to protect yourself is the best way you can keep your skin healthy (and your eyes too!). Keep reading for answers to some common questions about UV safety:

What are UV rays? 

UV, or Ultraviolet Radiation, is a form of energy emitted from the sun. These rays are the main cause of the sun’s damaging effects on the skin.

How do UV rays affect my skin?

UV rays damage the DNA of your skin cells. Once this damage affects the DNA of the genes that control skin cell growth, skin cancer can start to form. UV rays also age your skin cells, which in time causes wrinkles.

When is UV exposure at its highest?

There are a few factors that affect UV strength, the most well known being time of day, time of year, and amount of cloud cover. UV rays are strongest from 10am-4pm during spring and summer months. The closer you live to the equator, the higher the UV rays will be no matter what time of year. Although most clouds do filter out some UV rays, there are some types of clouds that actually reflect UV and can increase exposure.

What can I do to protect myself from harmful UV rays?

There are 4 easy things you can do to protect yourself from UV rays.

1. Cover up with clothing

2. Wear sunscreen

3. Put on a hat

4. Put on a pair of sunglasses

Obviously the best way you can protect yourself from UV rays is to avoid being in direct sunlight. If you are outside, stay in shady areas or avoid prolonged exposure to the sun if you can’t find shade. When sun exposure is unavoidable, covering up your skin with clothing will help keep most UV rays from hitting your skin. Put sunscreen on any areas of skin that are visible. Remember, the higher the SPF the more protection you have from UVB rays. It’s recommended you wear at least SPF 30.

If you notice any skin discoloration or abnormalities make sure you visit a dermatologist to have it evaluated.

Not sure what the signs are for skin cancer?
Read through our Skin Cancer Patient Education Guide to find out.