Enjoy the sun, but beware of its dangers
Many of us can't wait for summer. After a long, cold winter, we look forward to getting outdoors and feeling the warmth of the sun. But too much sun can be harmful. Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays. Exposure to UV radiation is one of the main causes of skin cancer. It can also cause sunburn, premature skin aging and cataracts. Protection from the sun is very important for both children and adults. A child's thin, sensitive skin is easily damaged by UV rays. Research shows that a blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence plays an important role in the development of skin cancer later on in life. Repeated, lifelong sun exposure, however, leads to the most common forms of skin cancer that occur in the most exposed areas of the body, like the ears, nose, neck, and balding areas of the scalp. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, anyone born today has a one in seven chance of developing skin cancer during his or her lifetime. It is possible to enjoy the outdoors while in the sun if you follow some simple guidelines: · Listen to the weather forecast daily to see how strong the sun will be. When the UV index is rated three or higher, it is important to take precautions against the sun.
Limit time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the UV rays are the strongest. · Look for or create shaded areas to do outdoor activities whenever possible. · Wear clothing to protect as much of your skin as possible. · Wear a hat with a wide brim. See PROTECT, pg. 3
Protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun
Continued from pg. 2 · Put on sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection. Tanning salons and sunlamps are not a safe way to tan. Just like the sun, tanning lights and sun lamps give off UV rays that can cause sunburn, age skin, and increase your risk of skin cancer. The best choices for sun protection are to stay in the shade or to cover up. However, sunscreen is important too. There are many different brands of sunscreen available. When choosing a sunscreen, it is important to keep the following in mind: · Use a sunscreen to help protect your skin when you cannot stay in the shade or cover up. It would defeat its purpose if you use it to stay out in the sun longer. · Use a sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. · Make sure the sunscreen offers both UVA and UVB protection (usually labelled "broad spectrum"). · Apply sunscreen generously, 20 minutes before going outdoors. · Reapply at least every two to three hours, and after swimming or exercise that makes you perspire. · Use a lip balm with an SPF 15 (the lower lip is a common site for skin cancer to develop). · Don't forget your ears, nose, neck and any bald spots, as these areas are where skin cancers occur most often. · When using both sunscreen and an insect repellent containing DEET, apply the sunscreen first. After waiting 30 minutes, apply the DEET product. Remember, as a parent it is your responsibility to protect your child from the sun. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions when applying sunscreen or DEET. For more information about protecting your skin, call Halton Region at 905 8256000, toll free 1-866-4HALTON (1-866442-5866) or visit the website at www.halton.ca. --Health Notes is prepared by Halton Region staff