Protecting Your Skin This Summer


One downside of summer is the possibility of sunburn from excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Sunburn is characterized by redness within a few hours of exposure. The redness might progressively worsen reaching a peak within two days, and in some people it starts to resolve within five days of exposure. Some cases however, do not improve. Instead, they worsen with blistering, swollen skin, pain, hyperthermia, weakness, dehydration and headache.

Sunburn can result from direct sunlight, reflective surfaces (such as water and sand) or artificial tanning (tanning beds). Radiation from the sun is a major source of UVB exposure, while UVA comes primarily from artificial tanning. Exposure to UV radiation can cause aging of the skin cells, suppression of the immune system and squamous cell skin cancer. The risk is greater with the increasing global warming and the continuous depletion of the ozone layer. Using sunscreen as a shield from UV radiation is prudent.

You should avoid outdoor activities at the peak of UV intensity, especially when your shadow is shorter than you. Plan to hold your outdoor events in shady areas. Wear protective clothing. Wear sunglasses that provide 100 per cent UV absorption; those that cover the gap between the eyes and the top and sides of the glasses offer added protection. Protect the face, ears and neck by wearing wide-brimmed hats of tightly woven fabric.

Loosely woven, white or wet clothing offers less protection. Nylon hosiery provides minimal protection. Umbrellas may reduce UV radiation exposure by about 70 per cent, but they do not protect against reflected radiation.

For more information on how to protect yourself from sunburn, contact the Health Promotion office at (780) 840-8000 extension 6958.

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