Sun Protection Safety

Sun-Protection



The best way to protect your skin from the dangerous effects of UV radiation is to make sun protection part of your daily routine.

Remember that certain oral and topical medicines, including antibiotics, birth control and benzoyl peroxide products can increase the sensitivity of your skin and eyes to UV rays. Check the label on your medicines and discuss the risks with your doctor.

Cosmetics that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) also may increase sun sensitivity and susceptibility to sunburn. Look for FDA’s recommended sun alert statement on products that contain AHAs.

The sections below outline the basic methods of sun protection and offer several tips for integrating sun protection into your daily routine.
 

SUN PROTECTION

  • Avoid overexposure to UV rays from both natural and artificial sources.
  • Plan your outdoor activities to avoid the sun's strongest rays. As a rule, seek shade and remember that the sun’s UV rays are the strongest between 10am and 4pm. You can also use the “shadow rule” - the sun’s UV rays are strongest when the shadow you cast on the ground is shorter than you are.
  • Use extra caution near water, snow and sand because they reflect damaging UV rays and increase your chance of sunburn and other damage to the skin and eyes.
  • Wear protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats, long pants and long-sleeved shirts made of tightly-woven fabric to reduce sun exposure.
  • Wear sunglasses that provide 100% UV ray protection (look for models that advertise both UVB and UVA protection).
  • Use a broad-spectrum (protecting from both UVA and UVB) sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater to protect uncovered skin. For best results, apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 1-1/2 to 2 hours even on cloudy days and after swimming or sweating. Both selection of the sunscreen and re-applications are important.
  • Carefully examine all of your skin once a month. Early detection of melanoma can save your life. A new or changing skin lesion should be evaluated by a dermatologist.
  • See a dermatologist if you notice an unusual mole, a scaly patch, or a sore with local persistent bleeding or that does not heal. This may be a pre-cancer or a skin cancer. If you develop severe itching or rashes in the sun, this may be an allergic reaction.

PROTECTIVE CLOTHING

​A wide-brimmed hat that shields your face and shoulders will provide the most protection. Optimally, the brim will be at least 4 inches wide and made of tightly-woven, opaque fibers. Loosely woven straw hats provide very little sun protection. As a rule of thumb, do not wear a hat if you can see light shining through the fabric.

Clothing can also help protect you from UV rays. Tightly-woven, light-colored, lightweight fabrics will provide you with the most comfort and protection.

Sun-protective clothing and swimsuits are now available in stores. However, these products are not regulated by FDA.
 

EYE PROTECTION

  • Choose sunglasses that are labeled with a UVA/UVB rating of 100% to provide the most UV protection.
  • Do not mistake dark-tinted sunglasses as having more UV protection. The darkness of the lens does not indicate its ability to shield your eyes from UV rays. Many sunglasses with light-colored tints, such as green, amber, red, and gray offer the same UV protection as very dark lenses.
  • Children should also wear sunglasses that indicate the UV protection level. Toy sunglasses may not have any UV protection, so be sure to look for the UV protection label.
  • Large, wraparound-style frames may provide more efficient UV protection because they cover the entire eye-socket. This is especially important when doing activities around or on water because much of the UV comes from light reflected off the water’s surface.
  • Sunglasses are the most effective when worn with a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen.

SUNSCREEN

  • Choose sunglasses that are labeled with a UVA/UVB rating of 100% to provide the most UV protection.
  • Do not mistake dark-tinted sunglasses as having more UV protection. The darkness of the lens does not indicate its ability to shield your eyes from UV rays. Many sunglasses with light-colored tints, such as green, amber, red, and gray offer the same UV protection as very dark lenses.
  • Children should also wear sunglasses that indicate the UV protection level. Toy sunglasses may not have any UV protection, so be sure to look for the UV protection label.
  • Large, wraparound-style frames may provide more efficient UV protection because they cover the entire eye-socket. This is especially important when doing activities around or on water because much of the UV comes from light reflected off the water’s surface.
  • Sunglasses are the most effective when worn with a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen.