Majority of skin cancers are a result of overexposure to Ultraviolet or UV rays. Even though UVB rays are stronger and are more likely to cause some skin cancers, there are no safe UV rays. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin damage and skin cancer. Harmful UV rays can come from things such as tanning beds or sun lamps, but mostly comes from the sun, and people who get too much are at high risk for skin cancer.
Different factors that make up the amount of UV exposure
- Sun rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm
- UV rays are stronger the closer you get to the equator
- UV rays can reflect off of surfaces such as snow, sand, and water
- UV rays are stronger during the spring and summer warm months
- UV rays are more harmful the more time you spend in the sun
- UV rays are more harmful without proper clothing or sunscreen
- Some skin types are more susceptible to skin damage
Although we shouldn’t hide from the sun, being mindful of our UV ray exposure is highly recommended. There are many precautions we can take to lessen the negative effects of the sun to our skin on a daily basis. Wearing protective clothing, hats, and/or sunglasses are simple ways to protect our skin and eyes from harmful UV rays.
Sunscreens are a very viable option in protecting your skin from UV rays and can be found in different forms like creams, lotions, gels, and sprays.
Here are a few things to remember when selecting a sunscreen
- Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection work against UVA and UVB rays
- Sunscreens with SPF of 30 and higher are recommended
- Water resistant sunscreens must indicate for what type of water they resist against (swimming or sweating) and for how long
- Sunscreens stored in hot temperatures for a long period of time are less effective
Even though sun rays can be very harmful, vitamin D is very good for your health. Everyone’s body produces a different amount of vitamin D for different reasons, but with the negative effects of the sun it might be healthier to obtain most of your vitamin D from your diet. This is still being researched heavily and maybe one day we will have a better understanding of our bodies in relation to the sun and UV rays. Be sure to attend annual visits with your dermatologist and don’t forget to screen your body for new moles or growths.