July is Ultraviolet Safety Awareness Month. It is a month dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of protecting your skin from the sun. Spending time outside in the sun is beneficial to your overall health in many ways, including reducing stress and getting vitamin D. However, it is important to take steps to protect your skin outside to prevent skin cancer.
The majority of skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet light. UV rays are a form of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. UV rays can cause major damage to the skin.
UV rays can affect your skin all year long, not just during the summer. UV rays are present on cloudy and cool days, and they reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow. It is crucial to take steps to protect your skin from the sun.
How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Sunscreen: The best way to protect your skin from the sun is sunscreen. Put on broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 15 or higher before you go outside. Sunscreen does wear off. It is important to reapply if you stay in the sun for more than 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
Shade: When spending a significant amount of time outside, reduce your risk of sun damage by staying in the shade. Sit under an umbrella or tree to protect your skin.
Sunglasses: Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays. Find sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays to offer the best protection.
Skin Cancer Statistics (by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)
Every year, there are more than 63,000 new cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, resulting in nearly 9,000 deaths.
More than 1 out of every 3 Americans reports getting sunburned each year. Sunburn is a clear sign of overexposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays, a major cause of skin cancer.
More than 400,000 cases of skin cancer, about 6,000 of which are melanomas, are estimated to be related to indoor tanning in the U.S. each year.
Tanned skin is damaged skin, yet nearly 1 out of every 3 young white women engages in indoor tanning each year.
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, with 5 MILLION PEOPLE treated each year.
1. Office of the Surgeon General . “Skin Cancer: Quick Facts from the Surgeon General.” HHS.gov, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 8 Aug. 2014, https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/reports-and-publications/skin-cancer/fact-sheet/index.html.
2. “Sun Safety.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Apr. 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm.
3. “UV Safety Month.” PMHCC, PMHCC, Inc., https://www.pchc.org/news-features/july-2021/uv-safety-month.html.