UV Safety 101

In order to learn about safety and ways to best protect yourself from the damaging effects that come from too much UV exposure, first it is important to understand exactly what Ultraviolet (UV) Rays are and how they affect our skin. There are 3 different types of UV rays with sunlight being the main source.

  1. UVA Rays, considered the aging rays, account for about 95% of the UV rays from the sun that penetrate deeply into the skin layers, damaging collagen and cells. These UV rays are also the cause of wrinkling, pigmentations, and loss of elasticity. UVA rays are also able to pass through glass, are not affected by weather, and are present all year long. The UVA rays are the rays most likely to increase the risk of skin cancer.
  2. UVB Rays are considered the burning rays. These rays are how we come up with the numbers for SPF. UVB mostly affects the outer layer causing sunburns and tanning to occur which can increase the risk for skin cancer.
  3. UVC Rays have more energy than the other two mentioned but do not get through our atmosphere. Not usually a cause of skin cancer.

While the sun is essential to good health and contributes to a sense of well-being, unprotected exposure to UV rays can cause premature aging and skin cancer. Below are a few tips we suggest to best protect yourself from sun damage.

  1. Seek Shade. You can prevent a lot of skin damage and reduce the risk of skin cancer by looking for a shady spot under an umbrella or tree. You will still get some sun but this lowers the exposure. Try looking for a shady spot before you have gotten burnt. You can also limit sun exposure from 10am-2pm.
  2. Wearing a hat can limit the exposure of sun to your face, ears, and back of neck. However, if wearing a baseball cap, you should always make sure to wear SPF on the areas not covered.
  3. Wearing sunglasses is always a good idea on sunny days. Sunglasses do more than just darken your surrounds to keep you from squinting. They also protect your face from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. Sunglasses can also protect the delicate skin around your eyes. When buying sunglasses, make sure that they protect you from UVA and UVB rays.
  4. Daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen decreases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by the sun when used with other sun protection measures. SPF in sunscreens is a measure of how much solar energy is required to produce sunburn on protected skin relative to the amount of solar energy required to produce sunburn on unprotected skin.
    • Pharmacy Solutions recommends EltaMD which is a broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains a mineral compound called zinc oxide which provides a physical barrier to protect against UVA and UVB rays. EltaMD sunscreens are fragrance-free, sensitivity-free, paraben-free and noncomedogenic.
    • The American Academy of Dermatology recommends use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher.

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