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Kraig W. Jacobson, M.D.

Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

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July is UV safety month – are you protected?

Posted by on in Allergy
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071513EPA-sunscreenWho doesn’t want to be out soaking up all of that great sunshine when summer arrives? We encourage you to get out, be active and enjoy the sun when it makes an appearance in Oregon. But we also encourage you to take care of yourself and learn something new during UV Safety Month.

Protecting your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV) pays off, as it’s the best way to prevent skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the United States. In addition to skin cancer, UV damage may also cause blotchy skin and wrinkles, as well as eye damage.

In addition, we see a number of patients in our allergy clinic who have photoallergic dermatitis, in which exposure to a medication or contact with certain substances become allergenic with exposure to the sun. Although sunscreens can prevent many of these reactions, there have been reports in which the sunscreen becomes the allergen and cause of the rash. These reactions are very rare, therefore, we remain strong advocates of UV sun protection.

Take a quiz

To test your knowledge of sun safety, start with the Sun Safety IQ quiz. The results may surprise you. 

Take action: Protect yourself

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put together a helpful printable document, called the Action Steps for Sun Safety.

Here are the recommendations in brief:

  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds.
  • Generously apply sunscreen. 
  • Wear protective clothing. 
  • Seek shade. 
  • Use extra caution near water, snow and sand. 
  • Check the UV index.
  • Get vitamin D safely.

new uv indexUsing the UV Light Index

A useful tool to use when planning outdoor activities is the EPA's UV index. This index measures the daily intensity of UV rays from the sun on a scale of 1 to 11. A low UV index requires minimal protection, whereas a high UV index requires maximum protection. Did you know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and can double UV exposure?

Sunscreens

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, sunscreen that prevents sunburn alone does not necessarily protect against the deep-penetrating ultraviolet A (UVA) rays that can cause damage to the deeper layers of skin, which can lead to cancerous tissue growth and promote early aging.

UVA rays: 

  • Penetrate into the thickest layer of skin, the dermis.
  • Weaken the immune system's ability to protect against skin cancer.
  • Promote premature aging of the skin.

UVB rays reach only the surface layer of skin and are the primary cause of sunburn.

Protection against both types of UV rays is necessary. Learn about the new FDA rules on SPF ratings that were issued in June 2011, and are now in affect for all manufactures.

Resist the urge to soak up the rays for that perfect tan; consider wearing sunscreen and limiting your time in the sun. For more on sun safety, check out Sun Safety: Save your skin!

An energetic problem solver, Dr. Kraig Jacobson has spent his career treating patients and teaching about the complexities of allergy, asthma and immunology. He has practiced medicine in Eugene since 1979. The bigger the challenge, the more he enjoys his work.