There’s one thing that can slow down any outdoor project and it’s completely avoidable. We’re talking about sunburns. May 27th is Sunscreen Protection Day, which serves as an important reminder that SPF is one of the most important tools to use when you’re building a deck, planting a garden or working on any other type of outdoor project.
A bad sunburn will not only delay completion on a project, it can be a serious health concern that’s uncomfortable in the short term and can do lasting damage in the long term.
Important Health Information About Sunburns in Texas
Today, more UV rays are breaking through the thinning ozone layer, which is contributing to the rise in skin cancer cases across the country. Here in Texas skin cancer is a serious concern. The state ranks third for the most cases of malignant melanoma – the most deadly type of skin cancer. More concerning is the fact that estimates show one in three Texans will get some kind of skin cancer during their lifetime.
While many skin cancer cases aren’t life threatening they are serious. Sunburns are an indicator of the damage that overexposure to the sun can do to skin. Any sunburn, even a light one, is tissue damage that can prompt skin cancer to form. Sunburns can be so severe that they are considered second-degree burns. In these cases the burn affects deeper layers of the skin, can cause blistering and damage nerve endings.
Both first-degree and second-degree sunburns cause damage to the skin cells’ DNA. This damage causes cells to mutate, die and/or experience a toxic change. Considering that any sunburn has this effect it becomes clear why consistent protection is important.
The Need-to-Know Info About Sunscreen
At the core of sun exposure issues is UV, known by its formal name ultraviolet light. The UV radiation from sunlight is made up of three different wavelengths, however there are only two types of UV rays that skin needs to be protected against – UVA and UVB.
UVA rays penetrate more deeply into the skin than UVB rays, causing damage that is associated with photoaging. UVB rays are the cause of sunburns and play a big role in melanoma formation. However, research shows that UVA rays increase the carcinogenic effects of their UVB counterparts and are the contributing factor to other types of skin cancer. It’s important to find a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both.
The next big sunscreen consideration is SPF. You’ve likely seen all the different SPF numbers, but what they mean is a bit of a mystery. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The higher the number the more protection you have and for a longer period of time. SPF 15, which blocks 93% of UVB rays, is considered adequate, however for those that want additional protection an SPF of 50 will block up to 97% of UVB rays.
Sport, sweat-proof and waterproof sunscreens are now available and are an excellent option for anyone that may work up a sweat outdoors. Just make sure to reapply this type of sunscreen every 80 minutes if you get sweaty or take a dip to cool off.
Sunscreen Tips to Keep in Mind
- UV rays are around everyday and can cause a sunburn even when it’s cloudy out.
- Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before going outside.
- Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two to three hours.
- Increase your protection with a hat, sunglasses and tight-weave cotton clothing.
- Avoid peak sun hours from 10am to 4pm whenever possible.
For more information on protecting yourself against skin cancer visit the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/hawk684/108139247