July is UV Safety Awareness Month, and the mission is to spread awareness about the importance of protecting your eyes and skin from the side effects of UV rays. Now you may think UV protection is just something you need during the hot summer months out on the lake or by the pool, but I am here to tell you UV protection is always in season. It’s important to protect your skin from sun damage throughout the year, no matter the weather. Why? Sun exposure can cause sunburn, skin aging, eye damage, and skin cancer, the most common of all cancers.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. There are three types of UV rays, UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC is the strongest of the UV spectrum radiation, but fortunately for us those rays do not reach earth’s surface because they are blocked by the ozone layer of the atmosphere. The only way to be exposed to UVC is from an artificial source. UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn, thickening of the skin, and several types of skin cancers – including melanoma. UVB rays penetrate the outermost layer of skin and cause damage to skin cells. UVB also can cause damage to eyes and your immune system. UVA rays penetrate deep into the layers of the skin and lead to premature signs of aging, which include fine lines and wrinkles. It is important to note that the amount of UVA stays relatively consistent throughout the year and exceeds the amount of UVB in both summer and winter. 

So, how do we protect ourselves from these harmful rays? While researching this topic I came across an article that talked about the 5 S’s to being sun smart this summer and protecting yourself from those harmful rays.  

  • Slip on a long-sleeved shirt or sun protective clothing
  • Slop on broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater, and re-apply every two hours
  • Slap on a hat, the wider the brim the better
  • Seek shade or shelter during peak sun exposure times, generally from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Slide on UV-protective sunglasses to protect the eyes