July is UV Safety Month: How to Stay Healthy This Summer

July is UV Safety Month! Sunburn isn’t our only concern…

Summer is the perfect time to remind our patients and the overall community about the dangers of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and how to protect yourself in the sun.  – Dr. Wiesman, WiseCare Founder & CEO

Learn more about sunburn, dehydration and UV Safety with your WiseCare experts!

Heat Stroke SunburnSummertime is typically when we get to enjoy the outdoors for extended periods of time. It is important to remember to protect your eyes and the skin you’re in!

The skin is the body’s largest organ. It protects YOU against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection. Yet, some of us don’t consider the necessity of protecting our skin from the effect of UV rays.

The sun emits radiation known as UV-A and UV-B rays. Both types can damage your eyes and skin:

• UV-B rays have short wavelengths that reach the outer layer of your skin
• UV-A rays have longer wavelengths that can penetrate the middle layer of your skin

By learning the risks associated with too much sun exposure and taking the right precautions to protect you and your family from UV rays, everyone can enjoy the sun and outdoors safely.

How Does UV Rays Damage Skin?

Too much UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds can damage the genetic material (the DNA) in your skin cells. If enough DNA damage builds up over time, it can cause cells to start growing out of control, which can lead to skin cancer.

This skin damage can also cause wrinkles to occur. In some cases the DNA damage causes genetic mutations, which can lead to skin cells growing unusually quickly. When this happens, it can lead to skin cancer; high amounts of UV exposure is a leading risk factor for the development of skin cancer.

Sun Allergy/Photosensitivity

It’s also possible to have an allergy to UV light — a sun allergy. Like more common allergies, allergy to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is tied to a faulty immune system.

Bumps, hives, blisters and blotchy red patches on your skin are symptoms of an allergy to UV light, also known as photosensitivity. Researchers still don’t know exactly how sunlight causes changes in the skin of photosensitive individuals; however, just as the immune system perceives proteins in pet dander or dust mites as a threat to the rest of the body, it responds to sunlight in a similar manner, and an allergic reaction subsequently takes place.

Exposure to UV rays triggers an inflammatory response in the skin. Sun allergies can be triggered after only a few minutes of exposure to the sun’s UV rays. It’s not known why some people develop a sun allergy and others don’t; however, some types of photosensitivity may be inherited.

Here are the harmful things unprotected sun exposure can also do:

• Cause vision problems and damage to your eyes
• Suppression of the immune system
• Premature aging of the skin
• Skin cancer

Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize the risk that comes with sun exposure:

UV Safety Awareness Month

1. Cover Up: Wearing a aat (preferably wide brimmed) or other shade-protective clothing can partly shield your skin from the harmful effects of UV ray exposure. Proper clothing may include long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats, and Sunglasses – for eye protection can help protect you from sunburn.

2. Stay in the Shade: The sun’s glare is most intense at midday. Staying in the shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. will further protect your skin. The sun can still damage your skin on cloudy days or in the winter. For this reason, it is important to stay protected throughout the year.

3. Choose the Right Sunscreen to Avoid Sunburn: This is extremely important. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new regulations for sunscreen labeling recommend that your sunscreen have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and should protect against both Ultraviolet A (UV-A) and Ultraviolet B (UV-B) rays. According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, most people apply only 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. When out in the sun, it’s important that you apply at least one ounce (a palmful) of sunscreen every two hours. You should apply it more often if you are sweating or swimming, even if the sunscreen is waterproof – if you want to avoid sunburn.

4. Be Aware of Drug Interactions: Keep in mind that some medications can cause photosensitivity, such as antibiotics, birth control pills and drugs for high blood pressure and heart failure. If you’re placed on a new prescription medication, ask your treating physician if you need to take precautions when going out in the sun.

5. Avoid Dehydration: Heat exhaustion and dehydration often go hand in hand. Dehydration, which is a depletion or imbalance of fluids or electrolytes in the body, when coupled with extended exposure to sun or heat, can cause heat exhaustion. Children are especially vulnerable when they experience prolonged exposure to high temperatures, direct sun, and high humidity, without sufficient rest and fluids. The difference is that a child’s body surface area makes up a much greater proportion of his overall weight than an adult’s, which means children face a much greater risk of dehydration and heat-related illness. Make sure to drink cool water early and often. Send your child out to practice or play fully hydrated. Then, during play, make sure your child takes regular breaks to drink fluid, even if your child isn’t thirsty. A good size drink for a child, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, is 5 ounces of cold tap water for a child weighing 88 pounds, and nine ounces for a teen weighing 132 pounds. One ounce is about two kid-size gulps.

Early signs of dehydration include fatigue, thirst, dry lips and tongue, lack of energy, and feeling overheated. But if kids wait to drink until they feel thirsty, they’re already dehydrated. Thirst doesn’t really kick in until a child has lost 2% of his or her body weight as sweat. Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke require immediate care. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that, when untreated, can be deadly. (Any child with heat stroke should be rushed to the nearest hospital.)

By taking the proper precautions and following this advice you and your loved ones can enjoy the sun.   If you are having any problems after being in the sun, be sure to talk to your WiseCare provider.

Symptoms or Concerns? Visit Your WiseCare Provider

If you experience acute sun-related symptoms such has dehydration, skin blistering, nausea or unrelenting symptoms that suggest you have an allergy to UV light – visit our WiseCare office in either Severna Park or Pasadena. We are open 365 days a year, including nights and weekends. We also offer IV fluid hydration.  Or, if you have a new or chronic skin concern to discuss, go online and schedule a primary care appointment so one of our providers can review your medical history and diagnosis your condition.  Our staff is available by calling 410.255.7900.

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