Sun Safety, Help Prevent Skin Damage
By Arlington Parks and Recreation
Posted on June 22, 2020, June 22, 2020

Boy in blue swim suit jumping off diving board

Did you know the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes? Here are some important sun safety tips to help you prevent skin damage.

Monitor UV Rays

The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Limit sun exposure to 3 hours. Early mornings and late afternoons, when your shadow is taller than you, your UV exposure is lower.

There are two types of rays to be concerned about—ultraviolet A (UVA) rays and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.

  • UVA rays, also found in tanning salons, can cause premature aging of the skin and contribute to the development of skin cancer.
  • UVB rays are the burn-producing rays. Overexposure to UVB rays is thought to be the most common cause of skin cancer.


Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outdoors or entering the water. Reapply every 2 hours. If you are swimming or playing sports use waterproof sunscreen.

The UV Index

The UV index number represents the strength of the UV rays reaching the ground. The higher the number, the higher the chance of sunburn and skin damage. Check the UV index daily. 

Skin Damage

The most serious problem caused by too much exposure to the sun’s UV rays is skin cancer. Schedule regular doctor checkups to help monitor sun damage.

According to the American Red Cross, The consequences of overexposure are severe. Too much unprotected exposure to the sun causes sunburn and other skin damage, such as:

  •  Dark patches
  • Loss of skin elasticity (sagging skin)
  • Wrinkles
  • Premature aging of skin (skin that looks older than it should)
  • Skin cancer

In fact, skin cancer has become the most common type of cancer in the United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology’s current estimates, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Of the different types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most serious. Dermatologists think that sunburns suffered in childhood may lead to melanomas later in life.

 Taking steps to reduce exposure to the sun every day is the best defense against skin cancer and the other negative effects of the sun.

 One of the most important actions you can take to reduce your risk for health problems as a result of sun overexposure is to use sunscreen or sunblock regularly and properly.

 Choose a sunscreen or sunblock labeled “broad-spectrum.” This means it will provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

 Plan your outdoor activities in ways that prevent overexposure to the sun and don’t forget to check the UV Index before you go outside.

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