Q: When do I need to protect myself from sun exposure?
A: Protection from sun exposure is important all year round, not just during the summer or at the beach. Any time the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays are able to reach the earth, you need to protect yourself from excessive sun exposure. UV rays can cause skin damage during any season or temperature.
Remember: UV rays reach you on cloudy and hazy days, as well as on bright and sunny days. UV rays will also reflect off any surface like water, cement, sand, and snow.
Q: How can I protect myself from the sun's UV rays?
A: When possible, avoid outdoor activities during midday, when the sun's rays are strongest. This usually means the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. You can also wear protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants.
Q: What can excessive exposure to UV rays do to my health?
A: UV exposure appears to be the most important environmental factor in the development of skin cancer and a primary factor in the development of lip cancer.
Q: Do I have to wear sunscreen every day?
A: Yes, it is highly recommended. Most sunscreens these days shield you from both ultraviolet A and B radiation. While UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburn, UVA rays penetrate deep into the base layer of the skin, where they break down the proteins that keep skin firm and young looking. (Both kinds of UV contribute to skin cancer.) UVA rays are the ones that lead to wrinkles and age spots and they beat down on you from dawn to dusk every day of the year, even when you're in the car or indoors, since they can penetrate glass.
Q: Do the waterproof versions really work?
A: The government recently decided to prohibit sunscreen makers from using terms like "waterproof" or "all-day protection" because there's not enough evidence to support those claims. And as with any other sunscreen, you're likely rub the lotion off as you move around, wipe the sweat from your brow, or dry yourself with a towel. So reapply every hour or so, even if you're just sitting there -- more often if you're swimming or sweating it out on the tennis court.
Q: Is wearing sunscreen enough to protect me?
A: That depends on your complexion and how much time you spend in the sun. If you are fair-skinned and need to spend considerable amounts of time in the sun, you'll probably need to take some increased precautions. Try wearing protective clothing like a broad-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, long pants and sunglasses. Also, try to lessen your exposure to the strongest midday sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
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