How to protect yourself from excessive UV exposure this summer
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - It’s summertime across the country, meaning people of all ages are heading outside to enjoy the warm weather.
While the sunshine can be wonderful, it can sometimes hold a hidden bite.
During the summer months, WKYT uses a chart referred to as the UV index to inform the public about the risk of sun exposure for the day. This index measures ultraviolet rays that come from the sun and how their strength might affect human health.
While UV rays do have some benefits, including the creation of Vitamin D, they can also cause associated health risks.
“When your skin cells meet the sun, there is DNA damage, and as a result, the skin cells can turn over rapidly, creating fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, but also skin cancer if you get too much,” Dermatologist Sarah Dougherty said.
The UV Scale ranges from 0-11+, with each level holding a unique risk as Levels 0-2 means no protection is needed, 3-7 means sunscreen of SPF 15 is recommended and sunglasses and a hat are encouraged. Finally, 8-11+ means extra protection is required, applying sunscreen on all exposed skin.
Kevin Hall of the Lexington Health Dept recommends taking precautionary measures throughout the summer months.
“First of all, put on sunscreen, and you want to reapply that according to the directions on the bottle or can. So it’s usually every hour or two hours, depending on what you are doing,” said Hall.
There’s a common misconception that the hotter it is outside, the more likely you are to develop a sunburn. But, the amount of UV rays that reach the earth on any given day is not affected by air temperature or brightness. When the sun sits high in the sky, the UV index is higher.
An easy way to tell how much UV exposure you are getting is to look for your shadow. If your shadow is taller than you are, like in the early morning and late afternoon, your UV exposure is likely to be lower. If your shadow is shorter than you are around midday, you are being exposed to higher levels of UV radiation.
“There’s anything you can do to get that extra protection to your skin will pay off. It will keep your skin healthier - and help you avoid the potential for skin cancer,” Hall said.
So in the coming summer months, make sure to double-check the UV index before heading out to enjoy the summer sun.
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