The sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays are sneaky. They are invisible and can reach you by reflecting off another surface (like pool water!). In fact, they can even pass through glass, which is why most of us have more sun damage on the left side of our face from exposure while driving, according to skincancer.org. No surprise then that many of us wrongly assume we are protected from harmful rays when we’re often not. This is a dangerous assumption as UV exposure is the leading cause of melanoma.
Since it is UV Safety Month, we’re sharing the top five ways you can protect yourself (and others) from UV rays, so that you can relax when you’re having fun in the sun.
#1 – Use Common Sense as Your First Line of Defense
According to the FDA, over-reliance on sunscreen is a risk. Unfortunately, it is easy to miss small patches of skin when applying sunscreen – which is enough to leave you at risk for sunburn and its associated long-term risks. So, the best move is to begin with common sense:
- Avoid midday exposure when the sun is highest in the sky. This is when sunrays are most dangerous.
- Wear protective clothing over exposed skin, such as long-sleeved shirts/pants, and a hat with a broad brim.
- Protect your eyes with sunglasses.
- Favor the shade.
Use your sunscreen as your second line of defense, not the first.
#2 – Watch Out for Uncovered Spots
When you’re slathering on that sunscreen and racing for the beach or the pool, it’s easy to assume that you are “mostly” protected. Make sure not to miss easily and commonly overlooked areas including:
- Ear lobes
- Eye lids
- Lips (use lip balm with SPF protection)
- Bald spots
- Palms of your hands
- Soles of your feet
- Your back
- The edges of your swimsuit or top (as they shift, unprotected skin gets exposed to the sun)
#3 – Check Sun Lotion Expiration Dates
Yes, it actually does matter how old your sunscreen is. Most likely, it has a printed expiration date. Once it has expired, throw it away immediately. The product’s active ingredients become less effective over time. In fact, the safest thing to do is throw away all of your unused sunscreen on an annual basis and replenish your stock with brand new bottles.
#4 – For Reliable SPF, Use Chemical-Based Sunscreens
Recent research by Consumer Reports shows that a troubling 48% of all sunscreen products do not provide the SPF rating that they claim on their packaging. Many people choose mineral-based sunscreens over chemical-based sunscreens for health reasons, but the research showed that only 26% of mineral sunscreens met the SPF levels claimed on their packaging. To play it safe, consider using one of the chemical-based sunscreen lotions, which score the highest in terms of SPF reliability.
#5 – Avoid Potentially Harmful Sunscreen Ingredients
Ingredients found in some sunscreen formulas present risks that are best avoided. For example, though vitamin A is generally good for us, the form of vitamin A often used in lotions can actually accelerate the development of skin tumors if applied in sunlight. And some fragrances commonly used in sunscreen have been linked to skin tumors. When you’re applying sunscreen, the best bet is to do so when you are clean and free from other products.
Avoiding sun-related health issues is a key concern during the summer; no one wants to spend a day of nice weather stuck inside of a doctor’s office or hospital dealing with sunburn, sun poisoning, dehydration, or related issues. Of course, if you find yourself in this position, we can help.
Use the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card
to ensure that you save on any of your prescriptions. At least if you’re suffering from an illness, you won’t have to worry about the price of your medications.
If you don’t already have a card, you can easily download a free card online
. You can also request a card by calling 1-800-222-2818. Not interested in carrying the card with you? There’s an app (for Apple and Android) available here