It’s Hot Out There! Protect yourself!
So typically when considering what to write for health and wellness, I research to learn what is being promoted on the national awareness calendar. Honestly, there was very little to choose from for this month. July seems to be a light month in comparison to the rest of the year. Its focus is on anything from eye injury prevention to clean beaches week. I don’t know about you but as far as eye injury prevention, 3 things to keep in mind: stay away from sharp objects, wear protective eyewear when around toxic chemicals, and avoid blunt force trauma. Okay, maybe that’s the Hollywood version from watching too many CSI’s but there are more things to be concerned about when it comes to prevention of any type.
Let’s keep on the subject of prevention. July is also UV Safety Month. Ultraviolet Rays are invisible to the human eye but over exposure can lead to acute and harmful effects of the skin, eyes, and immune system. There are some benefits in small doses helping to regulate calcium metabolism (vital to bone health), immunity, cell proliferation, insulin secretion, and blood pressure. One might ask then, why is UV light so bad if it has such benefits? In this case, the bad outweighs the good. There are many studies published that warn against over-exposure to sun. In a recent journal article it suggests, “The need to protect your skin from the sun has become very clear over the years, supported by several studies linking overexposure to the sun with skin cancer. The harmful ultraviolet rays from both the sun can cause many other complications besides skin cancer - such as eye problems, a weakened immune system, age spots, wrinkles, and leathery skin” (US Department of Health and Human Services).
In fact, according to research skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types! The American Cancer Society suggests that 3.5M people will be diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer. Of that 3.5M diagnosed roughly 13% of these cases are African Americans. That’s about 455,000 cases of skin cancer! Again, most cases of skin cancer is due to the harmful rays from the sun!
Here are a few tips to take care of your skin and eyes. First, wear protective sunscreen – at least 25 SPF. All skin types are subject to the harmful rays of the sun, not just the fair skin! Sunscreen will help prevent early signs of wrinkles, sunspots, or certain types of skin cancer. Second, wear protective clothing, such as a brimmed hat, pants, and long-sleeved shirts. On those hot summer days, avoid being outdoors during the sun’s peak, which is between 10am-4pm. Third, when outdoors, reapply sunscreen every so often and drink plenty of water! Lastly, protect your eyes! Yes, we made it full circle on eye injury prevention month! Just simply putting on some stylish shades are not good enough. You really should invest in a pair of sunglasses that are UV protectant. In the same article it stated that “UV rays can also penetrate the structures of your eyes and cause cell damage. According to the CDC, some of the more common sun-related vision problems include cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium (non-cancerous growth of the conjunctiva that can obstruct vision)” (US Department of Health and Human Services).
Let’s recap. Protect your skin and eyes. UV rays are non-discriminatory. Wear sunscreen! Wear UV protectant sunglasses! Stay under the shade, when possible, or wear clothes that keep your skin protected. Drink plenty of water – being well-hydrated has many benefits! By following these simple suggestions, you can avoid potential health problems that could impair your quality of life. #StayFocused. #StayInformed.