Friday, June 16, 2017

Summertime Sun Safety

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

With summertime activities fully underway I bring you today, some tips from Iowa State University Extension on sun protection.
Research has shown that cumulative sun exposure is a major factor in development of skin cancer.  Small changes occur in the skin each time it is exposed to sunlight.  People who burn easily, rarely tan, freckle or have a fair complexion, have blonde or red hair, or have blue or gray eyes, experience greater skin changes.  Skin cancer usually is not associated with a single, painful sunburn, but rather with repeated exposure to the sun and changes in the skin’s makeup.  The sun’s rays are more damaging during summer months and at midday hours than other times.  However, you can get a sunburn on a cloudy day during other seasons and at other times of the day.  Cumulative sun exposure is the major concern.  The back of the neck, ears, face, and eyes are sensitive to sun exposure. Luckily, these and other body parts easily can be protected by wearing proper clothing, sunglasses, or sunscreen.
Sunscreens recommended for outdoor workers should have a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of at least 15.  This means that you are protected from a reaction to the sun’s effects 15 times longer than you are without the sunscreen.  Read the label to know when to re-apply sunscreen and whether it is waterproof, but the general rule for reapplication of sunscreen seems to be every couple of hours.
Additional protection for the face and other parts of the head can be as simple as wearing a hat.  When selecting a hat, consider how much of your head, neck and face it covers.  Clothing also helps block the ultraviolet (UVR) rays the sun when it covers the skin.  Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks.  Closely woven or knitted fabrics are more protective because they lack open spaces to let UVR through to your skin.  Clothes dyed in dark colors (black, navy, red) have more dye to absorb UVR and shield your skin than light colored ones.  Light colored and white clothes may be manufactured to block UVR or washed using detergent with brighteners to improve their protection.
Even the most effective hats can block only 50 percent of the ultraviolet rays that reach the eyes. A good shade hat combined with the use of sunglasses is a better way to pro¬tect eyes from sun exposure.   Use caution when selecting sunglasses because they vary widely in the amount of protection from ultraviolet radiation. A peel-off label on the lens indicates its UV rating, or percentage of ultraviolet rays blocked by the sunglasses (the best rating is 100).  If no information is provided by the manufacturer, the sunglasses may not offer any added protection.

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