Well drivers, it is finally summer. The sun is out and temperatures are rising across the country. This is great news. This means no run-ins with blizzards or patches of ice. But, it does mean that staying safe and healthy in the heat and the sun become top priorities.
It is important to remember how harmful exposure to the sun can be. It doesn’t matter where or how you get a sunburn or tan; working in the yard, playing golf, laying outside or in a tanning bed, even just resting your arm on the driver’s side door while you are working. It’s bad news. Tans and sunburns are caused by harmful UV radiation from the sun. If you have a tan, you have damaged skin cells; it’s as simple as that.
This damage can lead to premature aging of your skin in the form of wrinkles, brown spots and sagging, or lax skin. And of course, overexposure to the sun may cause melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Studies show that over the past 40 years, cases of melanoma among people ages 18 to 39 have increased by 800 percent in women and 400 percent in men.
People at the greatest risk of overexposure are those who live in sunny climates or high altitudes, those whose jobs or favorite activities require them to spend significant amounts of time outdoors, a history of blistering sunburns as a child and, worst of all, repeated use of indoor tanning beds.
Happily, as in most things, a little common sense goes a long way. Skin damage from overexposure to UV rays can be prevented. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the warm weather without feeling the need to wrap yourself in a cocoon.
- Use a sunscreen that has been proven effective. Pick a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UV-A and UV-B rays and that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. And remember, the number here relates to the amount of time you may go between applications. A sunscreen with a protection factor of 15 blocks over 90 percent of the harmful UV rays, but would need to be reapplied more often than one with a factor of, say 100.
- Be sure to apply enough sunscreen — an ounce (about a handful) is generally enough to cover most exposed areas of your body. Use more if you want but don’t skimp! Apply it thoroughly and thickly.
- Be sure to cover all exposed skin. Get the backs of your ears, your shoulders and back, and the backs of your knees and legs. Avoid getting sunscreen in your eyes.
- If you plan on swimming (or sweating) look for a brand of sunscreen that is waterproof. Reapply as needed.
- Pay attention to the expiration date. The ingredients in sunscreen degrade over time.
These few simple steps can help you enjoy a safe, healthy summer, so apply that sunscreen and get out there and enjoy the beautiful summer weather as much as you can. And remember, just because you are in the cab of a truck, doesn’t mean you are necessarily safe from rays. Lather up!