What's your UV IQ?

The skin is the body's largest organ. It protects against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection. Yet, some of us don't consider the necessity of protecting our skin.

It's just smart to take good care of your skin

The need to protect your skin from the sun has become very clear over the years, supported by several studies linking overexposure to the sun with skin cancer. The harmful ultraviolet rays from both the sun and indoor tanning “sunlamps” can cause many other complications besides skin cancer - such as eye problems, a weakened immune system, age spots, wrinkles, and leathery skin.

How to protect your skin

There are simple, everyday steps you can take to safeguard your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation from the sun.

  • Wear proper clothing Wearing clothing that will protect your skin from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is very important. Protective clothing are long-sleeved shirts and pants are good examples. Also, remember to protect your head and eyes with a hat and UV-resistant sunglasses. You can fall victim to sun damage on a cloudy day as well as in the winter, so dress accordingly all year round.
  • Avoid the burn Sunburns significantly increase one's lifetime risk of developing skin cancer. It is especially important that children be kept from sunburns as well.
  • Go for the shade Stay out of the sun, if possible, between the peak burning hours, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. You can head for the shade, or make your own shade with protective clothing - including a broad-brimmed hat, for example.
  • Use extra caution when near reflective surfaces, like water, snow, and sand Water, snow, sand, even the windows of a building can reflect the damaging rays of the sun. That can increase your chance of sunburn, even if you’re in what you consider a shady spot.
  • Use extra caution when at higher altitudes You can experience more UV exposure at higher altitudes, because there is less atmosphere to absorb UV radiation.
  • Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen Generously apply broad-spectrum sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. The “broad spectrum” variety protects against overexposure to ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. The FDA recommends using sunscreens that are not only broad spectrum, but that also have a sun protection factor (SPF) value of at least 15 for protection against sun-induced skin problems.
  • Re-apply broad-spectrum sunscreen throughout the day Even if a sunscreen is labeled as "water-resistant," it must be reapplied throughout the day, especially after sweating or swimming. To be safe, apply sunscreen at a rate of one ounce every two hours. Depending on how much of the body needs coverage, a full-day (six-hour) outing could require one whole tube of sunscreen.

When to protect your skin

UV rays are their strongest from 10 am to 4 pm Seek shade during those times to ensure the least amount of harmful UV radiation exposure. When applying sunscreen be sure to reapply to all exposed skin at least 20 minutes before going outside. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.

Protecting your eyes

UV rays can also penetrate the structures of your eyes and cause cell damage. According to the CDC, some of the more common sun-related vision problems include cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium (non-cancerous growth of the conjunctiva that can obstruct vision).

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat To protect your vision, wear a wide-brimmed hat that keeps your face and eyes shaded from the sun at most angles.
  • Wear wrap-around style sunglass with 99 or higher UV block Effective sunglasses should block glare, block 99 to 100% of UV rays, and have a wraparound shape to protect eyes from most angles.

Using the UV index

When planning your outdoor activities, you can decide how much sun protection you need by checking the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 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.

July is UV Safety Month.

Sun Safety Quiz

Test your UV:IQ

1) A sunscreen product is considered safe if it prevents sunburn:


Sunscreen that prevents sunburn alone does not save your skin from all the harmful effects of the sun. Sunscreens that protect against sunburn do not necessarily protect against the deep-penetrating ultraviolet A (UVA) rays that can cause damage to the deeper layers of skin that can lead to cancerous tissue growth and promote early aging.

2) Effective sunscreen protects your skin against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays:


Protection against both types of UV rays is necessary. UVA rays penetrate into the thickest layer of skin, the dermis, and can weaken the immune system's ability to protect against skin cancer. UVA rays also promote premature aging of the skin. UVB rays reach only the surface layer of skin and are the primary cause of sunburn. (American Academy of Dermatology)

3) According to new FDA guidelines, what is the minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) for sunscreen products to protect skin against all types of sun-induced damage?


New regulations from the FDA require sunscreen products that protect against all types of sun-induced skin damage to be labeled "broad spectrum" and "SPF 15" (preferably SPF 30 or higher). D is incorrect because there is no evidence for additional benefits of using products with SPF values over 50.

4) If I have a darker complexion, I don’t need to use sunscreen:


Even though people with light complexions are at highest risk for skin cancer, people with darker complexions are still at risk. Melanin is a pigment found in the top layers of the skin—the higher the amount of melanin, the darker the skin’s tone. Even though higher amounts of melanin offer some protection from sun-induced skin damage, it doesn’t fully protect against sunburn or skin cancer. Wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen, going for shade, and wearing protective clothing during peak burning hours can help lower anyone’s risk.

5) If you stay in the sun all day, you should apply an entire tube (6 oz.) of sunscreen throughout the day:


"Most people apply only 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen," reports the American Academy of Dermatology. It is advised you put on an ounce of sunscreen and reapply this same amount about every two hours when exposed to the sun. Don't wait until you start to burn!

6) Aside from applying sunscreen, what can you do to protect your skin from the sun when you're outdoors?


Merely applying sunscreen is not enough! All of these skin-protection methods are necessary, as no one method alone is enough to keep your skin and eyes safe. For example, clothing provides an SPF less than 15, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Wide-brimmed hats can shield your face and your eyes, while sunglasses offer much needed protection for the eyes.

7) Which sunscreen label provides the most accurate description of its ability to protect your skin from the sun?


According to the FDA, sunscreens can only resist water or "screen" the sun’s rays, not block them.

8) One American dies of melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, every:


Melanoma is kills a person every hour in the United States. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, it’s estimated that 9,180 people will die of melanoma of the skin in 2012.

9) In recent years, the prevalence of melanoma has:


While many cancer rates are declining in the United States, the incidence of melanoma has continued to increase. According to the CDC, the diagnoses of melanoma have increased by 2.3 percent per year for men and 2.5 percent per year for women from 1999 through 2008 (the most recent data available).

10) How do you treat sunburn?


All of these options will promote the slow healing process of sunburn. Remember don’t give children or adolescents aspirin, because of the risk of Reyes Syndrome. Also, avoid creams and lotions with ingredients ending in “-caine,” such as benzocaine or lidocaine. Such products have the potential to irritate the skin further. They may also cause rare, but serious, medical complications, especially for children and adolescents.

The best thing to do is allow your skin to heal on its own and at its own pace. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is essential to keep skin that is recovering out of the sun, especially if your outer layer of skin is peeling or has peeled off. Contact your health care provider if you have any complications like extreme blistering or signs of an infection.


If you got 1-3 questions correct, you got burned!

If you got 4-7 questions correct, you felt a little heat.

If you got 8-10 questions correct, you played it cool.