Remember to Wear Sun Screen Under Your Mask and Sunglasses: UV Rays Are Hazardous, Too

BY SANDRA GUY

While you’re wearing your mask and sunglasses to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus, don’t forget your sunscreen.

That’s because ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin cells’ DNA. Over time, the exposure can lead to skin cancer as the damage builds up and causes cells to grow.

Experts say it’s best to avoid being out in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when ultraviolet radiation’s intensity peaks, and it’s a wise idea to get into the habit of applying sunscreen every day, year-round.

Experts also advise:

* Keep babies less than six months old out of the sun.

* Wear clothing to protect against the sun, including wide-brimmed hats that cover your ears and longer-sleeved shirts.

* Wear UV-protection shirts rather than plain white cotton T-shirts.

* Make sure your sunscreen provides sufficient strength. A sunscreen’s SPF (sun protection factor) should be greater than 30.

* Look for a lotion with broad spectrum protection to shield you from both UV-A and UV-B rays.

* Buy sunscreen with water resistance. No such thing as waterproof exists. If you’re going to be sweating or splashing in the water, you’re reducing the ability of the sunscreen to protect you.

* Make sure you apply enough sunscreen – at least a shot-glass amount. For the face alone, use at least a nickel-sized dollop.

* Beware sun protection sprays and stick roll-ons. They may be more convenient, but make sure you spread the lotion or gel evenly and broadly across your skin.

* Keep applying sunscreen – watch the clock and re-apply 15 minutes before time’s up for a 40-minute stay in the sun.

Skin cancers precipitated by sun-bathing skin damage are the most common form of cancer, with more than 5 million cases diagnosed each year nationwide.

That includes not only Caucasians, but also people of Asian, Latino and African-American descent – many of whom find out they’re affected too late for treatment.

Indeed, 20 percent of Americans will develop some form of skin cancer by age 70, and doctors say they’re seeing more millennials than ever seek treatment for sunbathing-caused skin damage.

Dr. Steve Xu, an instructor in the Department of Dermatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said the youngest person he sees for a sun or tanning-related skin cancer is 21 years old.

“Millennials are probably 20 to 30 percent of all of the patients we see each week for skin checks,” he said.

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