August 1, 2014
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Seasonal Health

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Sun safety: quick tips

Use a sunscreen.
Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF or sun protection factor of at least 15.

Use it everywhere.
Particularly on the head in frequently missed spots like the tips of ears, nose, and on the lips themselves. These are areas that sustain significant sun damage over the years and where sun-induced skin cancer typically appear as a result.

Apply ahead of time.
Remember to apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside to allow time for the ingredients to penetrate the skin.

Keep protected.
Reapply sunscreen frequently and liberally following the manufacturer's instructions.

Don't forget sunglasses.
Protect your eyes with sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection. Overexposure to sunlight can cause both short-term and long-term damage to your eyes.

Wear a hat.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head, neck, and ears. These regions are most susceptible to sun damage. A hat with a brim at least 3 inches wide will provide the best protection.

Wear protective clothing.
Use clothing to cover your skin.

Choose the proper clothing.
Do the lightbulb test when selecting the hat and clothing you plan to use for protection. If you hold the fabric up to a lightbulb and light filters through, it will be less effective than material that does not allow light to filter through. The material will act as a physical block to prevent UV rays from penetrating the skin.

Seek the shade and avoid the noonday sun.
Try to stay out of the sun between 11 am and 4 pm. This is when the sun's ultraviolet B radiation is strongest. It is safer to be outside in the early morning or late afternoon.

Think ahead.
Do not rely on your skin to tell you when to get out of the sun. If you are burnt, your skin has already been severely sun damaged.

Use sunscreen all year.
Protect your skin from spring to early fall, and exposed skin areas in the winter if you participate in winter sports.

Be careful all year.
Remember that reflected light from snow, sand, and cement can cause skin damage.

Don't forget sun after care.
Moisturize your skin after sun exposure to replenish lost moisture.

Ask a health professional.
If you are taking medication check with your physician or pharmacist before seeking the sun. Some medications can make your skin more sensitive.

Watch for the signs of skin cancer.
These include moles or birthmarks that change colour, size, or texture, skin growths that increase in size, spots that continue to itch, crust, hurt, scab, or erode, or any open sore or wound that does not heal in 4 weeks or one that heals and reopens - see your doctor immediately if you have any of these signs.

 
Suzette Alvarez 
in association with the MediResource Clinical Team 

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