August sun carries skin cancer risk

August 3, 2011

The August sun can be dangerous, and protecting your skin should be a high priority.
Although this is a year-round issue, overexposure to sun and its dangers occurs most during the summer. When skin is exposed to ultra-violet (UV) rays, it responds by producing melanin, a pigment that helps protect your skin to prevent further sun damage resulting in a “tan.”
The problem, however, is that the skin cannot produce the amount of melanin needed fast enough to protect most skin types from overexposure to UV rays.
Individuals with fair skin, red hair, and naturally blond hair or light-colored eyes, produce very little melanin when exposed to UV rays, which means their skin will likely skip the tanning stage and go straight to sunburn.
Even those with darker skin should take precautions, as anyone can be at risk to overexposure of UV rays.
UV light is responsible for the wrinkling and/or leathering of the skin and for causing sunburns – and can cause skin cancer, damage to the eyes and damage to the immune system.
To protect your skin from UV damage:
* Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 or higher.
* Look for one that states it provides “broad spectrum” protection, which means it  provides protection from all forms of UV rays.
* Choose a water-resistant sunscreen to better protect your skin while wet.
* Reapply sunscreen often since none offer all-day protection.
* Avoid or limit sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as these are the hours where the sun is at its peak and you are most at risk for sun damage.
* Cover your skin as much as possible if you will be in it for long periods of time. Wear long sleeves and/or sun-protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.