Here Comes the Sunburn
With spring’s warmer temperatures and increasing sun angle, cabin fever here in the Northeast has finally broken, giving way to renewed energy for outdoor activities. Soon we’ll be planting the garden, mowing the lawn, and gathering our gear for a day at the beach, hoping for a cloudless sky to bask in the rays from that golden orb high above. But with these Tiffany days comes the peril of damaging our skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the hours between 10:00am and 4:00pm are the most hazardous for UV exposure in the continental U.S. with the sun’s rays the strongest during late spring and early summer in North America. While sunlight is a primary source of Vitamin D, short-term exposure can cause sunburn (erythema) and blistering with long-term exposure associated with skin cancer, skin aging, cataracts, and immune system suppression. The National Toxicology Program reports that broad-spectrum UV radiation from the sun contributes to the estimated 1.5 million cases of skin cancer annually in the United States.
The CDC recommends the following for protection against UV radiation (even during hazy days):
- Stay in the shade during mid-day hours
- Wear light clothing that covers the arms and legs
- Wear a wide brim hat
- Wear sunglasses that protect against UV-A and UV-B rays
- Use sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher and with UV-A and UV-B protection
- Avoid indoor tanning
The CDC has more information on risk factors and sun protection and check out these MEMIC Safety Net blogs on protecting yourself when enjoying the “seasons in the sun.” Don’t let a fun day outdoors end with “Ouch, where’s the Solarcaine?”
By Greg LaRochelle