It is easy to forget about the sun in springtime after a long dreary winter. Therefore many people sun burn in the spring because they forget about sun safety. Excess sun exposure can greatly increase one’s risk of developing skin cancer which, according to the American Cancer Society is one of the most common forms of cancer today. Children are especially vulnerable because if you burn in the first 15 years of life you double your risk of cancer as an adult.
According to Ohio State University Fact Sheet HSC-7, uncomfortable sun-burns and skin cancers are not the only problems associated with getting too much sun. Overexposure can cause premature aging of the skin. Repeated exposure to the sun damages the elasticity of skin causing it to wrinkle, and become leathery. Other sun effects of premature aging include brown patches or spots, or skin with a yellow or grayish hue.
Many individuals have a high sensitivity to sunlight that can be accelerated by certain products, namely medicines or drugs. Some medicines or drugs can cause severe burns in people who might be otherwise resistant to burning. Drugs that have been known to increase sensitivity to sunlight include medicated soaps, facial preparations, acne treatments, antihistamines, antidepressants, tranquilizers, antibiotics, diuretics and anti-hypertensive drugs. Some people are allergic to the sun without medications. They may develop rashes or blemishes with sun exposure.
Ultraviolet sun rays can also cause eye damage. The incidence of cataracts increases with sun exposure. Cataracts involve the clouding of lens and surgery is often needed to correct the problem.
With these facts in mind, the American Cancer Society recommends these sun safety tips:
- Limit exposure to the mid-day sun especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are their strongest.
- Cover up with a wide brim hat. Ideally the hat should be made from tightly woven fabric and should have a 3-inch brim.
- Sunglasses with UV protection can help the skin around the eyes but can also reduce the risk of developing cataracts.
- Apply sunscreen liberally at least 20 minutes prior to sun exposure. Sun screen should have an SPF of 15 or higher.
- Infants younger than 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight in the shade.Skin damage cannot be reversed but further sun damage can be prevented. OSU Extension in several Ohio counties have a machine called Dermascan that highlights sun damage on the face. Check with your OSU Extension office to see if they offer this educational opportunity.
Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness. Ohio State University Extension
Reviewed by: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, EFNEP/ FCS. Ohio State University Extension
American Cancer Society. How do I Protect Myself from UV Rays? Accessed on 3/2/2016 from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/sunanduvexposure/skincancerpreventionandearlydetection/skin-cancer-prevention-and-early-detection-u-v-protection
Brinkman, Pat. (revised 2016). Ultralight Light Exposure: Health Concerns. Ohio State University Factsheet CDFS 199. Accessed on 3/2/2016 from http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/cdfs-199
Brinkman, P. (2016). Keeping Sun Safe! Ohio State University Factsheet HSC-7. Assessed on 3/2/2016 from http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hsc-7.