'); } -->
What do running and playing outside, pushing baby strollers, walking in parks, sandy beaches and barbecue grills all have in common?
The activities all require the skin being exposed to the sun.
Every year family and friends look forward to the summer months. It is the time of year school is out, vacations are in and reunions are planned. While we may look forward to these months, we must understand that it is also a time of excessive heat exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Ultraviolet rays are an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps. UV rays can penetrate and change skin cells. The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are the most hazardous for UV exposure in the continental United States. Too much exposure to UV rays can change skin texture, cause premature aging of the skin, cataracts as well as sunburn.
Sunburn can occur within 15 minutes of exposure, but the redness and discomfort may not be noticed for a few hours. Even more alarming is repeated sunburns can eventually lead to skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 65-90 percent of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light or sunlight. It is estimated 53,919 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with melanomas of the skin, 30,560 of them men and 23,359 of them women. Many people are at risk for potential health problems associated with UV light.
Here are some measures that can be taken to avoid overexposure to UV radiation:
Make sure you use sunscreen with sun protective factor 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection. Did you know that you must also reapply every two hours, on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating?
Wear protective clothing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends wearing long-sleeved shirt, pants, wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. An alternative is to wear a T-shirt or a beach cover-up at a minimum. Keep in mind that darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors.
Seek shade whenever possible.
By following these simple steps you can enjoy the sun while keeping yourself cool and safe.
For more information call the CDC at 800-232-4636 or visit its website at www.cdc.gov.