Being outside at all times of year is necessary for our health. It is important to remember that your skin can be damaged by the sun at all times of year. Skin damage is irreversible. With the summer months here it should be second nature to take steps to protect your skin from the sun when you go outside.

Some of the energy of the sun is in the form of ultraviolet rays. There are two types of ultraviolet rays. UVA is responsible for aging and wrinkling of the skin. UVA is 95 percent of the radiation that reaches the earth’s surface and affects the inner layers of skin. UVB is responsible for sunburn and affects the outer layer of skin. UVB plays a key role in the development of skin cancer. UVB rays can damage your skin year around because it reflects off of surfaces such as water, ice, and snow.

Check out the UV ray index that can be found daily in your area by looking online.

UV ray index

Rating: 0-2, Risk: Minimal, Minutes to Burn: 60, Precautions: Sunscreen, UV sunglasses

Rating: 2-4, Risk: Low, Minutes to Burn: 45, Precautions: Sunscreen, UV sunglasses

Rating: 4-6, Risk: Moderate, Minutes to Burn: 30, Precautions: Sunscreen, UV sunglasses and hat

Rating: 6-10, Risk: High, Minutes to Burn: 15, Precautions: Sunscreen, UV sunglasses and hat and umbrella

Rating: 10-15, Risk: Very High, Minutes to Burn: 10, Precautions: Sunscreen, UV sunglasses and hat, umbrella and avoiding mid-day sun

Protect your skin, the largest organ in your body.

Avoid being outside from the times of 10 a.m.-4 p.m. when UVB rays are the highest. If you are outside seek shade at these times. Cover them up with a shirt that is bright or dark colored that is tightly woven. That will help reflect the sun.

Rub on sunscreen that is “broad spectrum.” It should be at least SPF 30 or higher. Apply 30 minutes before going outside and every two hours after or sooner. Get a wide brimmed hat. If wearing a baseball hat, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your neck and ears. Shades are cool. Don’t forget to make sure your sunglasses are UV blocking to protect your eyes.

We have been working with the Chahinkapa Zoo to promote sun safety. Check out our display in the educational center this summer.

Have fun and BE SUN SAFE.

Miranda Andel RN, BSN, is a Public Health Nurse with Richland County Health Department.

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