Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, Wis. – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin in as little as 15 minutes.
During July’s UV Safety Awareness Month, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals, following guidance from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), remind everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors.
UV radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation that comes from the sun and man-made sources like tanning beds. There are three types of UV rays:
- UVA rays can cause skin cells to age and may cause long-term skin damage such as wrinkles, liver spots and leathery skin
- UVB rays can directly damage the DNA in skin cells and are the main rays that cause sunburn. UBV rays are the most harmful to skin, contributing to skin cancer and premature aging.
- UVC rays are high in the atmosphere and do not touch the ground, therefore these rays do not pose as much of a health risk.
The strength of UV rays that reach the ground depends on a several factors, such as:
- Time of day: UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Clouds: UV rays can penetrate clouds, so applying sunscreen even on cloudy days is recommended.
- Reflection off surfaces: UV rays can bounce off surfaces like water, snow, sand and pavement, leading to an increase in UV exposure.
- Distance from the equator: UV exposure goes down as you get father from the equator.
- Season: UV rays are stronger during spring and summer months, unless you are close to the equator, which poses year-round sun danger.
Protection from the sun’s rays, especially with the use of sunscreen, is the most effective way to reduce harmful sun exposure. All sunscreens contain protection against UVB rays, but not all provide protection from damaging UVA rays.
Besides using sunscreen regularly, HSHS experts suggest speaking with your provider about any medications are you taking; some medications can make you more sensitive to UV rays. You can also protect yourself from harmful UV rays by limiting time in direct sunlight, using an umbrella for shade, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and wearing long sleeves and pants.
For more information about UV rays, visit the Ultraviolet Radiation page of the CDC’s website. To learn about types of sunscreen, how often to apply it and more, visit the American Academy of Dermatology’s Sunscreen Resource Center.
About HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1889, it has been meeting patient needs in western Wisconsin with the latest medical innovations and technology, together with a Franciscan whole-person healing tradition.
About HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital
HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1885, it has served the people of the Chippewa Falls area with health care that is high tech and high touch. Known locally for the quality of the care it provides patients, the hospital has been recognized nationally for its outstanding patient satisfaction levels.
About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality, Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our physician practices and 15 local hospitals in two states - Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan, and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org.