Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Real Threat of Overexposure to Ultraviolet Rays

Memorial Day Weekend, sunny days, and warm summertime temps have ushered in beach season at last! Because our office is located at the foot of the Causeway Bridge, we have a ringside seat to the comings and goings of folks headed to the beach. A very interesting phenomenon we have noticed is that, on cloudy days, the number of cars headed towards Lumina Avenue and Waynick Boulevard is usually lower.

Now, it could be that overcast skies mean that rain is imminent. However, we suspect that the vast majority of beachgoers do not feel a trip to the strand is worthwhile unless it holds the promise of a few hours in the sun.

In spite of the volumes of research that exist, large numbers of Americans are still determined to bake and brown with very little protection from ultraviolet rays.

The dangers associated with overexposure to the sun are well documented and, in North Carolina, it poses a real concern. Because skin cancer is a significant danger, we feel this information bears repeating. Here are a few startling facts from the National Cancer Institute:
  • Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Each year, more than 68,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma, and another 48,000 are diagnosed with an early form of the disease that involves only the top layer of skin.
  • In North Carolina, Caucasians have the third highest death rate from Melanoma (skin cancer) in the U.S. 
  • The rate of new Melanoma diagnoses in North Carolina is rising faster than all other types of cancer, except for thyroid.
  • Sunburns are a risk factor for developing skin cancer.
Have you or a member of your family had a sunburn in the last few years? Many people sheepishly begin the summer by allowing themselves to burn and foolishly think, "I'll be tan when this goes away." Allowing your skin to burn is never a good idea!

Take these steps to ensure your days on the beach will be sun-safe:
  • Stock up on sunscreen. Keep an ample supply in the beach bag, car, boat and at home.
  • Use sunscreen that is a minimum of 30 SPF; make sure it is water and sweat proof.
  • Apply sunscreen and lip protection 30 minutes before heading to the beach, golf course, tennis court, or anywhere you'll be outside.Yes, that also means before doing yard work!
  • To ensure all areas are covered, apply sunscreen before getting dressed and have someone help you apply it to those hard to reach spots. 
  • Remember to spread plenty on your feet, hands, neck and ears. These are some of the most frequent sites for skin cancer to develop! Not to mention, your neck, chest and hands reveal the first signs of aging. 
  • An adult should use about one ounce of sunscreen (a shot glass full) for each application. 
  • Reapply the sunscreen every 2 hours. If you've been perspiring or swimming then towel off all the moisture before you reapply.
  • Invest in a few articles of clothing to keep overexposure to ultraviolet rays to a minimum.
Long sleeved rash guards are great for protection along with hats and sunglasses. Rash guards are especially effective for small children and active adults. Fortunately our Wrightsville Beach surf shops always keep plenty in stock.

Summer officially begins on June 21st.
Get ready now!

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