With warmer weather headed our way, there are more opportunities for outdoor activities. Though staying active and being outdoors is beneficial, it is important that you protect yourself from harmful exposure. Overexposure to the sun’s rays can have a damaging effect on your health. The sun’s ultraviolet rays (or UV) are a form of radiation that is powerful enough to damage the DNA in our bodies’ cells, which in turn can lead to cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “because UV rays don’t have enough energy to penetrate deeply into the body, their main effect is on the skin.” UV radiation is also divided into three types:
- UVA- as the weakest of the three types of UV radiation, UVA is usually linked to long-term skin damage, especially wrinkles
- UVB- this type of UV radiation is stronger than UVA and are typically what causes sunburns. Experts consider this to cause most of the skin cancers.
- UVC- Of the UV rays, this is the strongest. However, thanks to the ozone in our atmosphere, UVC rays do not reach the ground and are not considered a high risk for skin cancer. It is important to note that UVC radiation is emitted by several man-made items, such as arc welding torches, mercury lamps, and UV sanitizing bulbs that kill bacteria and other germs.
To protect yourself, limit the amount of skin exposed to the sun, make sure to wear sunscreen, wear a hat, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. It is also important to take extra care with children, and infants six months old or younger should not be exposed to direct sunlight and should wear protective clothing (sunscreen has not been deemed safe by the FDA for infants at that age). In addition, avoid artificial sources of UV rays as much as possible. For example, many people believe tanning beds to be a safe source of UV rays; this is simply not true and tanning beds should be avoided. Contact us for more information on how to protect yourself from skin cancer, or if you have any questions about suspicious skin lesions.