Sun protection important in Northwest Colorado | CraigDailyPress.com

Sun protection important in Northwest Colorado

As the summer heat peaks in Northwest Colorado, it's a good time of year to remember to protect against the damaging effects of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

"High altitude locations have a thinner atmosphere that filters less UV radiation before reaching the Earth. Individuals in Moffat County are more prone to UV radiation exposure for this reason compared to those living at sea level," said Memorial Regional Health Dr. Cynthia Reed.

Sunlight, electric arcs and specialized lights such as black lights and tanning lights are all sources of the UV rays. It's not normally visible to the human eye and it creates chemical changes that can be very damaging to tissues.

According to the American Cancer Society, "people who get a lot of exposure to UV rays are at greater risk for skin cancer."

Prolonged exposure also leads to sunburn and photo-aging.

Exposure happens anytime you're in the sun, adding up day after day.

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People with fair skin, skin disease, the elderly and young children are all particularly susceptible to UV damage, and individuals on certain medications such as doxycycline can be more sun-sensitive as well, Reed said.

On the plus side, sunlight provides many health benefits, such as triggering the production of the mood enhancing hormone serotonin, prompting the skin to produce vitamin D, treat psoriasis, eczema, jaundice, and acne, and in limited amounts it might actually suppress cancer cell production, summarized by Healthline.

Therefore, it's important to get outside and not avoid the sun completely.

Sunscreen can play an important role in avoiding over exposure to UV rays.

"There are many different types of sunscreen. Some absorb the UV radiation. Some are designed to reflect it," Reed said.

She recommends following the guidelines for the American Academy of Dermatology by applying a broad spectrum product, with at least 30 SPF 15 minutes before exposure and then every two hours while outside or every 40 minutes when in the water.

Four tips for applying sunscreen:

Sunscreen should be applied to any area of the body that is exposed to the sun.

Follow the "teaspoon rule" by applying one teaspoon of sunscreen to face and neck, two teaspoons to front and back torso (if exposed), one teaspoon to each upper limb and two teaspoons to each lower limb.

Use sun protective clothing including hats and shirts or pants that contain SPF.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend sunscreen use for infants younger than 6 months of age. They should be using sun protective clothing and kept out of direct sunlight exposure due to their sensitive skin.

To have a fun time in the sun, Reed also recommends avoiding sun exposure during peak hours and to try to stay in the shade as much as possible.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

Protect yourself from UV rays

Getting too much sun can be harmful. The American Cancer Society recommends limiting exposure to UV rays by staying in the shade. Remember to “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap”:

• Slip on a shirt.

• Slop on sunscreen.

• Slap on a hat.

• Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them.

— For more helpful tips visit the American Cancer Society website.