Sun exposure, UV index and sunscreen

Wearing sunscreen should be a basic element of every family health care plan. This preventative measure may spare you serious illness down the line.

Exposure to ultraviolet rays is linked to an increased risk of skin cancer. If not caught early by a dermatological exam, some cancerous cells can spread to other parts of the body with potentially fatal results.

Studies have shown that even getting sunburns as a child can be a factor in developing skin cancer as an adult. UVA rays also age skin cells and damage DNA. The result? Fine lines, pigmentation spots, and wrinkles, all of which make you appear older than you really are.

Certain ingredients in sunscreen absorb UV rays, blocking them from reaching the skin. Apply sunscreen at least thirty minutes before heading outside for maximum results. This gives the active ingredients time to adhere to the skin.

Reapply your protection throughout the day, and always freshen up after you’ve been sweating or swimming. When buying sunscreen, look for a broad-spectrum protection of at least SPF 15 that safeguards against both UVA and UVB rays. However, though an SPF may be high, that doesn’t mean apply less often, the Environmental Working Group warns.

Sunscreen alone can’t prevent skin cancer and sun-related aging of the skin. Staying in the shade during the strongest sun-exposure times of the day helps. Wearing SPF clothing and hats helps too. Just regular clothing offers a 27 percent reduction in sunburn. And don’t forget to wear your sunglasses, too.

On many weather apps, you can check the UV index for the day in your area. The UV index gives a forecast of the probable risk of overexposure to UV radiation from the sun, which is between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The reading is considered high risk when it’s 6 to 7. So make sure that you try to stay out of the direct sun until it’s safe to be exposed to it for long periods of time.

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