Conquer the Sun this SummerAs we head into the summer season, it is important to remember that while it may be beautiful weather, the sun can be physically harmful.  You must protect yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which can harm your skin in as little as 15 minutes and can lead to cancer.  In fact, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, with 5 million people being treated each year. There are as many as 72,000 new cases and 9,000 deaths from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, each year.  Additionally, the sun’s UV rays are also responsible for more than 90% of skin damage such as wrinkles, sagging, dryness, freckles, and dark spots.  This article will provide you with helpful facts and tips in order to protect your skin and body from harm.

During the summer, the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  The easiest way to avoid sun related damage is to find shade.  Furthermore, you should try and schedule your outdoor activities such that you take advantage of the early morning and late afternoon time periods.  If you cannot, then try your best to take breaks from the sun in shade filled areas.  The next key to limiting your sun exposure is to adequately cover up.  This means wearing clothing that covers the arms and legs.  While some outdoor gear is actually designed to offer sun protection, utilizing tightly woven fabrics have been proven to help the most.  In fact, some sports clothing now show an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating that informs you on how well that article of clothing protects your skin from ultraviolet rays.  In general, the most effective UV protection comes from clothes with a UPF rating from 15 (good) to more than 50 (excellent).  As an example, a plain white shirt only has a UPF of five, while the pair of jeans has a UPF of 1,700.  This supports the idea that tightly woven fabrics offer the best defense from the sun’s harmful rays.  Finally, a hat and sunglasses can add an additional layer of protection to your skin from UV rays.

Conquer the Sun this Summer use sun screenThe last and arguably most important aspect of protection from UV rays is sunscreen.  It is vital that you apply sunscreen when you are going to be exposed to strong UV rays for an extended period of time.  First and foremost, you should choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.  However, many professionals suggest that you should actually utilize, at a minimum, sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.  SPF ratings are essentially a barometer for UV ray protection, with higher SPF numbers providing a greater amount of protection.  In order to maximize the usefulness of sunscreen, you should avoid products that combine UV and insect protection in one bottle.  The insect protection will minimize the effectiveness of the sunscreen in terms of UV protection.  For women, you can actually purchase makeup that has SPF built into the chemical compound, thus giving your face a base level of protection from harm.  When applying sunscreen, you should use at least one full ounce to cover all the exposed parts of your body.  Additionally, you should apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before exposing your skin to the sun for maximum protection.  It should then be reapplied to your nose, entire neck, top of your feet, top of your ears, your scalp, and even your lips every two hours, even on cloudy days.  Finally, you should utilize more sun screen when it is windy, or after you have been in the water or worked up a sweat.  Abiding by these simple guidelines will help protect your skin from any short term or long term damage from harmful UV rays.

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