June—Tip of the Month
Canadians can’t get enough of patio weather! When summer rolls around, most of us head outdoors to play sports, get a tan, enjoy the warmth, or stock up on vitamin D. But even though sunshine can do wonders for our mood, it can also cause serious damage to our health. We all know prolonged exposure to UV radiation can mean serious health risks like skin cancer or eye cataracts. And then there’s photoaging, a phenomenon that can result in unwanted wrinkles, dark spots, and freckles. And is there any need to explain how painful a bad sunburn can be? So, after a long, cold winter, what is a sun lover to do?
Applying sunscreen is second nature to most of us, but it can make us feel invincible to the dangers of sun exposure when, in reality, we should be diligent about getting a high enough SPF (SPF 15 for most days; SPF 30 if taking part in outdoor activities), checking the expiration date on bottles from previous years, and reading the instructions before applying. And many people forget to apply a new coat after a few hours in the sun or a dip in the water—make a habit of reapplying after two to three hours outside in the sun or if you get wet. And make a mental note to recall those often forgotten spots: your ears, your hands (make sure not to wash them right after applying), your feet, and your lips (use lip balm with SPF)! Your eyes are equally sensitive to sunlight, so choose a pair of sunglasses that offers UV protection.
When checking the weather forecast to plan your week, a glance at the UV index will help you understand how to protect yourself from the associated risks each day. The higher the UV, the more at risk you are from sun damage. Since UV rays are usually strongest in the middle of the day, moving your picnic or patio table to a shady corner or using an umbrella is the smart (and safe!) way to go. And don’t forget to wear a sun hat when no shade is in sight. Along with protecting you against harmful UV rays, avoiding direct sunlight can also mean avoiding heat-related illnesses, like heat stroke. Make sure to stay hydrated!
A final thought: You may want to consult your pharmacist about sun sensitivities that may be caused by certain medications you are taking. He or she may suggest a few extra precautions to protect your skin and eyes from UV damage.
And if you’re planning a trip to sunny destinations where temperatures and UV indexes hit highs we aren’t accustomed to in Canada, be even more cautious when it comes to all that fun in the sun!
Ingle’s Tip of the Month was provided by Alexanne Beaudoin, Health Information Specialist, Novus Health (part of the Ingle Group of Companies)
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