Protect yourself from UV Rays
Summertime is upon us, and as the region heats up, many Texans will be spending more time outdoors. Whether you are working in the garden, playing baseball, or relaxing in the pool, it is important that you take the proper precautions to protect yourself from the sun’s heat and ultraviolet rays.
“Your skin is constantly exposed to the outside world, and we have to be careful to protect it,” says Dr. Brent Shepherd, a family practice physician in Jacksboro. We have to be careful around all UV rays, as they are the leading cause of skin cancer.”
Skin cancer continues to be the most common form of cancer in the U.S., with an estimated one in five Americans developing skin cancer in a lifetime. Fortunately, we can take precautions to protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon. The foundation estimates that about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
“Daily sunscreen in any season can protect your skin, prevent skin cancer, and keep your skin looking young,” Dr. Shepherd says.
To further protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays, Dr. Shepherd recommends that individuals cover exposed skin by seeking shade as much as possible during the late mornings and afternoons. People should also wear light-colored cotton clothing, as it covers the skin and allows the body to breathe more easily. Hats with large brims can also protect the head, ears and neck.
Sunglasses are also recommended for individuals participating in outdoor activities. Sunglasses with lenses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA- and UVB-type rays should be selected. In addition, gray-colored lenses also reduce light intensity and provide more-natural vision.
Long exposure to the sun or extensive activities in the heat can easily lead a person to heat exhaustion.
Sweating acts as a coolant system for the body. This system brings the body temperature down, but it also causes the loss of large amounts of body fluids, leading to dehydration. Consuming water or sports drinks can help combat exhaustion and keep the body hydrated.
“Try to stay away from large amounts of soft drinks, coffee, and alcohol when outdoors in the heat,” Dr. Lara Pierce, a family practice physician in Jacksboro says. “These types of drinks cause your body to excrete extra fluids, leading to a higher rate of dehydration.”
To avoid the harmful effects of UV rays, it is recommended that people stay out of the sun and heat as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays and temperatures are at their highest and can do the most damage.
“Always pack plenty of hydrating drinks and ways to cool off. With our young kids, we also take an umbrella and cooking snap towels to every activity,” Dr. Pierce explains. “Summertime here in Jack County can get pretty toasty, so as long as the proper precautions are taken, you and your loved ones can have a safe and fun time outside.”
For more information about protecting yourself outdoors, ask your primary care physician or call Faith Community Hospital at 940-567-6633.