Practicing safety in the summer sun

A local extension office set up a booth at the fair and educated fair-goers on important topics — including sun safety.
OSU Extension Educator on Family and Consumer Sciences Lois Clark was out at the fair in the Horticulture Building giving tips and information on sun safety.
“I encourage the use of sunscreen and a hat while outside,” Clark said. “I also encourage people to stay out of the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., but if they have to be, it is important to apply sunscreen.”
Clark suggested putting on sunscreen prior to being outside, so it has a chance to soak in and protect the skin as soon as one goes out into the sun.
She also stresses that it is highly important to re-apply sunblock while outside to keep the skin protected from harmful rays when the sunscreen wears off.
Sun protection is lost through heat and humidity, and sunscreen needs to be re-applied to continue protective benefits.
Also, while Clark was out at the fair between certain time frames during the day at the OSU Extension booth, she brought out a “DermaScan,” which is an awareness machine to help a person to see sun damage on their face.
A person could put their face into the curtained machine, that had black lights and a mirror, and they could see their face in a different light.
The machine showed one’s face with “freckles,” and different colors which represented different things, including sun damage and dry skin. The “freckles that one saw were the beginning signs of sun damage to the face.
This tool was used for awareness only, and Clark referred people to their physician if they had additional questions and concerns about their skin.
A group of people that are at high risk for too much sun exposure are people who work outdoors.
“People that work in the sun are exposed to the sun everyday,” Clark said.
People in this area, especially farmers, need to make sure they are wearing protective coverage to prevent sun damage.
“Many farmers wear a ball hat that doesn’t cover their ears,” Clark said. “They need to watch the ears and nose.”
Also, Clark mentioned people who lay out and tan need to be careful of the damaging long-term effects.
“We do need sunlight to absorb vitamin D, but be careful,” Clark said.
Skin cancer has long been associated with exposure to the sun, and more than 1 million cases are diagnosed in the U.S. annually, with 10,590 being fatal, according to Joyce Smith, of The Ohio State University Extension in Columbus.
Melanoma accounts for 73 percent of deaths from skin cancer, and studies show there is a definite link between the sun and skin cancer.
Skin damage from overexposure to the sun is cumulative over the years and cannot be reversed, and most serious and lasting damage occurs before 18 years of age, according to Smith.
Repeated exposure to the sun can also cause premature aging of the skin. Sun damages elastin fibers in the skin and accelerates the aging process, according to Smith.
When skin loses elasticity, it starts to wrinkle and become leathery, and this damage is irreversible.
It is also important to not only wear sunscreen while out in the sun, but to also wear protective sunglasses. Ultraviolet rays can cause eyes damage, and the incidence of cataracts increase with sun exposure, and corneal sunburn and growths on the surface of the eye are thought to be related to long term sun exposure, according to Smith.
One should wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UBA radiation.
“It is important to be safe while spending time in the sun, and to take proper measures to prevent sun damage to the skin and eyes,” Smith said.