While UVA rays penetrate window glass and lead to photodamage and photoaging, UVB rays are blocked by window glass yet are the main cause of sunburns and skin cancer. Once UVB rays penetrate the skin, molecular errors occurring at the DNA level build up over time, leading to skin cancers most commonly, basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and melanomas.
In order to help with sun safety, here are a few guidelines to help you this summer.
- Avoid sun exposure between the peak hours of 10am and 4pm. UVB rays are emitted at higher amounts during the peak hours of 10am and 4pm. It is imperative to avoid direct sunlight during these hours or seek shade.
- Utilize sun-protective clothing, including clothing with ultraviolet protective factor (UPF) that limits the amount of UV radiation reaching the skin, wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Be generous with your sunscreen application. It is important to use broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 or higher that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. Sunscreens capable of protecting against both will usually contain the ingredients titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Apply one ounce of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outdoors. When outdoors, reapply every two hours — or immediately after any water exposure.
- Avoid tanning beds. Tanning beds emit large amounts of UVA radiation, which leads to development of skin cancer such as melanomas.
- See your local dermatologist once a year for skin cancer screening exam. Ask questions. Get educated. Know your skin. It is never too late to start.