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Ultraviolet Awareness

With Ultraviolet Awareness Month coming to an end, and with Summer right around the corner, we want to touch a bit more on sun safety. Ultraviolet radiation exposure is a major risk factor for most skin cancers. Most UV rays mainly come from sunlight, but tanning beds are also a source as well.

Types of UV Rays

  • UVA- These rays age skin cells and can damage their DNA.
  • UVB– Have slightly more energy than UVA and are the main cause of sun burn.
  • UVC– Do not get through our atmosphere, and are not in sunlight.

There are no safe UV rays, but UVA and UVB are the ones that cause skin damage, and cause skin cancer. It is essential to protect your skin when UV rays are the strongest. 10 am to 4 pm is the time frame when they are the strongest, as well as in the Spring and Summer months. Even on cloudy days, UV rays can get through. Let’s take a look at some ways to protect your skin when you are outside.

Slip, Slop, Slap

The American Cancer Society says to slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on a hat.

  • Seek shade– Limit how long you are outside and in direct sunlight.
  • Sunscreen– Make sure you are using a broad spectrum sunscreen 30 SPF or higher, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. When applying an SPF 30 sunscreen correctly, you get the equivalent of 1 minute of UVB rays for each 30 minutes you spend in the sun. So, 1 hour in the sun wearing SPF 30 sunscreen is the same as spending 2 minutes totally unprotected. We often do not apply enough sunscreen, so it is actually less.
  • Wear a Hat- Hats with a 2-3 inch brim all around are ideal.
  • Sunglasses-Avoid cosmetic sunglasses, but instead search for sunglasses with Labels that say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” 
  • Avoid Tanning Beds and Sunlamps- Tanning beds have been linked with Melanoma and give off both UVA and UVB rays. If you want that sun-kissed glow without the cancer risks, try a sunless tanner instead. There are a lot of options from sprays to lotions.

Alamo Heights Dermatology has a wide range of preventative and cosmetic services available for all your skin care needs. If you, or someone you love is interested in learning more about the services we offer, click HERE to learn more.