Summertime: UV Safety and Seniors

It’s no secret that seniors have weaker immune systems and need to be cautious around those who are ill or in environments with lots of germs. But did you know that the sun can also affect the immune system?

It’s not just children and young adults who need to take precautions in the sun. In fact, because seniors have a higher risk for two common types of skin cancer (Basal and Squamous Cell), they need to be extra cautious.    

Now that summer is in full swing, and July is UV Safety Awareness Month, we thought we’d take this opportunity to explore ways for seniors to be safe in the summer sun.

UV Rays

You’ve probably heard of UV rays before, but understanding them is key to knowing why they can be so harmful.

The sun releases UVB, UVA, and UVC rays. Although most UVC and UVB rays are absorbed from the earth’s ozone layer, some UVB rays are not. The effects from not protecting from UVB rays can often be expressed on someone in the form of sunburns, brown spots, wrinkles, and skin cancer.

UVA rays, on the other hand, can permeate through some kinds of glass (like windows) and can also cause wrinkles, brown spots, and skin cancer, without causing a sunburn. Sometimes referred to as a “silent killer,” UVA rays can be deadly. This is why it’s important to either avoid sitting near a window where this could happen, or take precautionary measures by wearing sunscreen indoors or in a car.

UV rays aren’t just dangerous to your skin either. They can also affect your visions sometimes causing cataracts or macular degeneration.

Simple Ways to Protect Yourself

It is recommended that people wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 with zinc, and to reapply every two hours. Click here to see what some dermatologists recommend.  

Wearing sunscreen properly will shield your skin from harmful UV rays, prevent sunburns, prevent premature aging, lower blotchiness, and lower your risk of skin cancer.

In addition, wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with 100% UV protection, and clothing that covers your skin to give it added protection.

Stay Indoors When Possible

Especially between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm (which is considered the peek danger zone and when the sun is brightest), try avoiding the outdoors. Staying inside will also help lower your risk of becoming dehydrated, having heat exhaustion, or experiencing heat stroke.

Visit a Dermatologist Regularly

The National Cancer Institute states that in 2019, there will be more than 96,000 new cases of melanoma. However, early diagnosis is key to successfully treating skin cancer.

It’s important to get checked for skin cancer annually by a dermatologist. The doctor will monitor your moles and any other areas of concern. If she notices anything suspicious, she will take a sample and get it biopsied.

You shouldn’t wait to have your skin checked once a year either. In fact, you should be examining yourself and looking for any abnormalities often. If any moles are asymmetric, have a deep, dark color, are large, or keep changing, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately.

 

At Aegis, we truly care about each of our patients and seek to make sure every one obtains the very best health care possible. Contact us today to see how we can help your aging loved one.

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