Summer Sun Safety

  • Published
  • By Mike Jett
  • 82nd Training Wing Safety Office
Sunburn will fade, but damage to deeper layers of skin remains and can eventually cause cancer. That's why sun-safe habits should begin in childhood and last a lifetime

Everyone's skin and eyes can be affected by the sun and other forms of Ultraviolet rays. People with lighter skin are much more likely to experience sun damage, but darker-skinned people, including African Americans and Hispanic Americans, could also be affected.

People with darker skin tan more easily while people with lighter skin are more likely to burn. Tanning is still a form of skin damage, just not as severe as a burn.

While sunburns are thought to increase the risk of skin cancer, especially melanoma, UV exposure can raise skin cancer risk without causing sunburn.

Aside from skin tone, other factors can also affect the risk of damage from UV light. People should be especially careful in the sun if they: 

· Have a number of moles, irregular moles or large moles 
· Have freckles and burn before tanning 
· Have fair skin or blond, red or light brown hair
· Have a family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma
· Work indoors all week and then get intense sun exposure on weekends
· Take tetracycline, sulfa drugs or certain other antibiotics
· Take naproxen sodium or certain other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs 

Ask a doctor, nurse or pharmacist about the risk of any medicines that could increase sensitivity to sunlight.

Some people think about sun protection only when they spend a day at the lake, or playing golf or other outdoor activities. But sun exposure adds up day after day, and it happens every time someone is in the sun.

"Slip! Slop! Slap! and wrap!" is a catch phrase that reminds people of four key methods they can use to protect themselves from UV radiation. Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat and wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and the sensitive skin around them from UV light.

Follow these practical steps to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun:
· Cover Up: Wear clothing to protect as much skin as possible.

· Use a sunscreen with sun protection factor of 15 or higher: Experts recommend products with a SPF of at least 15. Be sure to apply the sunscreen properly following the label directions. Pay close attention to your face, ears, hands, and arms, and generously coat the skin.

· Wear a hat: A hat with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim all around is ideal because it protects areas most often exposed to the sun, such as the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp.

· Wear sunglasses that block UV rays: Research has shown that long hours in the sun without protecting eyes increases the chances of developing eye disease. The ideal sunglasses do not have to be expensive, but they should block 99-100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation. Check the label to be sure they do.

Information courtesy of the American Cancer Society. Please check out their website for more sun protection information at