Staying Safe While Having Fun in the Sun

Sun safety is never out of season. With summer rapidly approaching, that means it’s time for picnics, trips to the pool and beach… and a spike in the number of sunburns.

However, winter skiers and fall hikers should be wary of the sun’s rays just as much as swimmers! People who work outdoors should be taking extra precautions, too.

Sunscreens are products combining several ingredients that help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin. Two types of UV radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin, age it prematurely, and increase your risk of skin cancer.

UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburn, while UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging and other light-induced effects of aging (photoaging). They also exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays and increasingly are being seen as a cause of skin cancer on their own. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB.

What is SPF?

Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protecting against UVB. SPF – or Sun Protection Factor – is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. So, here’s how it works: If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer – about five hours.

Another way to look at it is in terms of percentages: SPF 15 filters out approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent and SPF 50 keeps out 98%. They may seem like negligible differences, but if you are light-sensitive, or have a history of skin cancer, those extra percentages will make a huge difference. And, as you can see, no sunscreen can block all UV rays.

But, there are problems with the SPF model: First, no sunscreen, regardless of strength, should be expected to stay effective longer than two hours without reapplication. Second, “reddening” of the skin is a reaction to UVB rays alone and tells you little about what UVA damage you might be getting. Plenty of damage can be done without the red flag of sunburn being raised.

Whatever our skin color, we’re all potentially susceptible to sunburn and other harmful effects of exposure to UV radiation. Although we all need to take precautions to protect our skin, people who need to be especially careful int he sun are those who have:

  • Pale skin
  • Blonde, red, or light brown hair
  • Treated for skin cancer in the past
  • A family member who’s had skin cancer

Reduce Time in the Sun

It’s important to limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest. Even on an overcast day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can get through the clouds. Stay in the shade as much as possible throughout the day.

Dress with Care

Wear clothes that protect your body. If you plan on being outside on a sunny day, cover as much of your body as possible. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and pants. Sun-protective clothing is now available. However, the FDA only regulates such products if the manufacturer intends to make a medical claim. Consider using an umbrella for shade.

Be Serious about Sunscreen

Check product labels to make sure you get:

  • An SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Broad spectrum protection – sunscreen that protects against all types of skin damage caused by sunlight.
  • Water resistance – sunscreen that stays on your skin longer, even if it gets wet. Reapply water-resistant sunscreens as instructed on the label.

Ladies: Your Bra has Expired

Unlike traditional prescriptions, it’s not as obvious to tell when your bra has expired. A majority of women simply have no clue! In most cases, women are walking around in brasseries that should have been replaced months, or even years ago.

Your bra is there for a reason. It has a very important job to do, but when it has expired it can no longer perform that job. Depending on how well your bra is taken care of, their average life is only 6 to 9 months.

Your bra is on its last leg when:

  1. You have to wear your bra on the tightest hook, but it still rides up your back.
  2. The elastic is so stretched out that it just won’t bounce back.
  3. Your body weight has changed.
  4. Your bust is drooping.
  5. Hooks or pieces are missing or beginning to fall off.

For Mastectomy patients in particular, it is very important to realize that bras should be replaced every 3-6 months. Wearing a breast form and mastectomy bra offers the comfort of being more balanced. It is also important in preventing back and neck pain, as well as maintaining good posture.

Certain insurance companies will only provide coverage for up to 4 bras a year, which can be sufficient as long as they are properly taken care of. To allow your brassiere to live a long life, here is a simple tip:

  • Make sure that you have at least 3 to 5 brassieres a year and rotate them daily. If you rotate 3 bras, you will be able to wear each of them for 121 days out of the year! Stop in MacDonald’s Pharmacy or call to make an appointment and we will make sure you are comfortable and looking your best all year long!