Resources on Sun Safety
July is UV Safety Awareness Month and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Let's be sun safe! Here are some tips to remember when you are being active or lounging outdoors:
Cover Up: Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and cover as much skin as you can. Remember, a t-shirt has a sun protection factor (SPF) of less than 15 so other protection will be necessary.
Know your Medications: There is a long list of drugs that can make you more sensitive to sunlight. These drugs will cause either photoallergic or phototoxic reactions on your skin.
- Photoallergic reactions occur when medications applied to your skin react with sunlight and cause a reaction that looks like a rash similar to eczema. Blisters, hives or red bumps can also occur.
- Phototoxic reactions occur when your skin is exposed to sunlight after taking certain medications and the skin is damaged. In some individuals, this damage can last many years.
It is important to talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about how any medications you take will react to the sun. Your body’s reaction to your medication when it is exposed to sunlight may be less severe than others.
Don’t Skip the Sunscreen:
- Use SPF 15 or higher.
- Look for the words “blocks UVA and UVB” or “broad spectrum” on the label.
- Apply liberally (minimum of 1 oz) at least 20 minutes before sun exposure.
- Apply to all exposed skin. Remember to apply to ears, scalp, lips, neck, tops of feet, and backs of hands.
- Reapply at least every 2 hours and each time you get out of the water or sweat heavily.
- If you are also using bug spray, apply sunscreen first and bug spray second. Sunscreen may need to be reapplied more often.
- Throw away sunscreens after 1–2 years. Don’t leave sunscreens in the heat too long. This can cause them to break down faster.
- Some makeup and lip balms contain sunscreens. If they do not have at least SPF 15, though, you need to use additional protection.
Infographic: How Can Communities be Sun-Safe?
References and Additional Resources:
Quiz: What’s Your Sun Safety IQ?
Take the Sun Safety Quiz from the American Cancer Society by clicking here: http://www.cancer.org/healthy/toolsandcalculators/quizzes/sun-safety/index
U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2012 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2015.