The Pulse

Welcome! The Pulse is an online health and wellness journal created to bring readers a comprehensive view into today's most important topics. We hope you enjoy The Pulse and that the informaton you find here will lead to a healthier life for you, your friends and family.

UV Safety Month

With Summer well underway attention turns to the usual outdoor summer activities: beaches, barbeques, and bicycles, and bathing suits are at the top of everyone's mind. With all this focus on outdoor activities, this month's Pulse focuses on protecting against the harmful affects of Ultra Violet Radiation. July is National UV (ultraviolet) Safety Month, please take a moment to brush up on techniques for protecting your face, skin, and eyes from the harmful affects of the sun.

UV Radiation has both positive and negative effects. Positive effects of UV radiation include warmth, light, photosynthesis in plants, and vitamin D synthesis in the body. UV radiation also increases moods in people and kills pathogens (see diagram). But overexposure to UV radiation has adverse health effects. Overexposure to UV radiation is the primary environmental risk factor in the development of UV-related adverse health effects, which include diseases of the eye, immune suppression, and skin cancers.

Teaching Children about Sun Protection.

Children are most at risk for overexposure to UV radiation. With one in five Americans developing skin cancer, childhood education about sun protection is a vital step toward reducing risk and improving public health. Many studies have concluded that sun exposure, especially sunburn, during childhood appears to increase the risk of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Just one or two blistering sunburns in childhood can double a person's risk of developing melanoma later in life.

Children are of particular concern because they spend a lot of time outdoors. Perhaps most importantly, skin cancer and other UV-related adverse health effects are largely preventable if sun protection practices are followed early and consistently. Educating school staff and students about sun safety can prevent many health problems related to overexposure to the sun.

KidsHealth.com:       Sunburn Instruction Sheet

The damaging effects of UV rays on skin

The short-term results of unprotected exposure to UV rays are tanning and sunburn.

A sunburn causes skin redness, tenderness, pain, and in some cases, swelling and blistering. Symptoms of more serious sunburn include fever, chills, upset stomach, and confusion. If these symptoms develop, see a doctor.

The long-term effect of sunburn is more serious.

UV exposure that is intense enough to cause sunburn clearly increases a person's risk of developing skin cancer. And UV exposure can increase skin cancer risk even without causing sunburn.

Long-term exposure can also cause premature changes in skin including:

  • Aging
  • Wrinkles
  • Loss of elasticity
  • Dark patches (lentigos, that are sometimes called "age spots" or "liver spots")
  • Actinic keratoses

Actinic keratoses are small (usually less than 1/4 inch) rough or scaly spots. Usually they develop on the face, ears, back of the hands, and arms of middle-aged or older people with fair skin, although they can develop on other sun-exposed areas of the skin. Although actinic keratoses grow slowly and usually do not cause any symptoms, they sometimes turn into squamous cell cancer.

Besides skin cancer, the sun's UV radiation also increases the risk of cataracts and certain other eye problems, and can suppress the immune system.

SOURCES AND LINKS:

Gold Bamboo Resources

UV light and Eyes.

- Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology

In addition to skin cancer, and wrinkles the damage caused to skin, UV rays can damage your eyes. Prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB rays has been linked to cataracts and macular degeneration - eye conditions that can lead to blindness.

Recent studies have shown that prolonged exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays without protection may cause serious eye conditions that can lead to vision loss and blindness.

Wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. Buying a good pair of sunglasses is not enough. You must remember to wear them whenever you’re outside. Don't be fooled by a cloudy day. The sun's rays can still burn through the haze and thin clouds.

And please, don't forget the kids. Children should also wear hats and sunglasses and try to stay out of the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., when the sun's ultraviolet rays are the strongest.

 

During July, UV Safety Month, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Eye M.D.s around the country encourage everyone to protect their eyes from UV-related damage.

  • The same UV-A and UV-B rays that can damage your skin can harm your eyes as well. When you protect yourself from the sun, don't just think sunscreen – think sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat.
  • Excessive, prolonged UV exposure may be linked to the development of eye conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
  • Extensive or intense exposure to UV rays can cause "sunburn" on the surface of your eye. Similar to a skin sunburn, eye surface burns usually disappear within a couple of days, but may lead to further complications later in life so protect your eyes. 

To protect your eyes, wear a brimmed hat and the right kind of sunglasses when you are going to be exposed to UV light.

  • Wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays.
  • If you spend time on the water or in the snow, consider purchasing goggles or sunglasses that wrap around your temples because they block the sun’s rays from entering on the sides, offering better protection.
  • Remember sunglasses don't have to be expensive to offer the right kind of UV protection. Even inexpensive glasses can protect your eyes if they offer 99 to 100 percent UV-A and UV-B protection.
  • Don't forget the kids. Protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses. In addition, try to keep children out of the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. when the sun's ultraviolet rays are the strongest.

It's important to protect your eyes when UV light is most intense.

  • Generally, UV light is at the greatest level at midday (10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.), but you need to protect your eyes whenever you're outside for a prolonged period, even when it's gray and overcast.
  • Reflected sunlight off water, snow and pavement can be the most dangerous type of UV light because it is intensified.
  • Your eyes can be harmed by UV light sources other than the sun, such as welding lamps or tanning lights. So remember to wear eye protection when using these sources of invisible, high energy UV rays.

JULY  2005

UV Safety Month



Sun Safety Tips

Limit Exposure to Midday Sun

Avoid or limit exposure to the sun between 10 am and 4 pm, when UV rays are strongest and do the most damage. When outside, seek shade whenever possible.

Cover Up

Sunscreens alone do not protect your skin from the sun. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, tightly woven full-length clothing, and UV-protective sunglasses to shield your skin and eyes from the sun. Remember to use sunscreen on any exposed skin.

Use Sunscreen

Use sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher at least 15 minutes before going outside. Choose a sunscreen that has both UVA and UVB protection and apply liberally. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently after sweating or being in the water.

Protect Children from the Sun

Minimize children's exposure to sunlight between 10 am and 4 pm. When outdoors, protect children by using wide-brimmed hats, tightly woven full-length clothing, UV-protective sunglasses, and liberally applying sunscreen that is rated at least SPF 15 and provides both UVA and UVB protection. Scientists have found a link between childhood sunburn and skin cancer later in life.

Avoid Indoor Tanning

Avoid exposure to radiation from sunlamps, tanning parlors, or other artificial tanning devices. Exposure to UV rays from any source can lead to skin damage.

-Source: National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention

What to do to sooth a sunburn?

What can you do right away to minimize the damage from sunburn? 

First Aid   

  • Try taking a cool bath or shower. Or place wet, cold wash cloths on the burn for 10 to 15 minutes, several times a day. You can mix baking soda in the water to help relieve the pain. (Small children may become easily chilled, so keep the water tepid.)
  • Apply a soothing lotion to the skin.
  • Aloe gel is a common household remedy for sunburns. Aloe contains active compounds that help stop pain and inflammation of the skin.
  • An over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be helpful. (DO NOT give aspirin to children.)

Do Not   

  • DO NOT apply petroleum jelly, benzocaine, lidocaine, or butter to the sunburn. They make the symptoms worse and can prevent healing.
  • DO NOT wash burned skin with harsh soap.