summer workplace wellness

On ‘First Day’ of Summer, Sun Protection Reminders

Memorial Day Weekend is always a time of remembrance and optimism — respect for America’s fallen combined with the excitement of the unofficial start of summer.

It’s also a time when well-run workplace wellness programs can remind employees about proper sun protection and skin cancer prevention.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: “Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. To lower your skin cancer risk, protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning. Follow these easy options:

  • “Stay in the shade, especially during late morning through mid-afternoon.”
  • “Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.”
  • “Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.”
  • “Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection.”
  • “Avoid indoor tanning.”

Said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.: “Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Current estimates are that one in five Americans are at risk of developing skin cancer in their lifetime. Exposure to natural and artificial ultraviolet (UV) light has a direct impact on a person’s risk of developing skin cancer — despite age or skin type. Most cases of melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — can be attributed to ultraviolet exposure. We also know that the effects of exposure to UV radiation — whether from the sun or indoor tanning beds — are cumulative. They add up over one’s lifetime.”

Of course, the easiest way to protect against the sun is to avoid it. But that’s neither fun nor practical. Sunscreen is an obvious form of protection.

The CDC explains how sunscreen works: “Most sunscreen products work by absorbing, reflecting, or scattering sunlight. They contain chemicals that interact with the skin to protect it from UV rays. All products do not have the same ingredients; if your skin reacts badly to one product, try another one or call a doctor.”

“Sunscreens are assigned a sun protection factor (SPF) number that rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays. Higher numbers indicate more protection. You should use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15.”

As we’ve noted, the American Academy of Dermatology offers guidance on how to select a sunscreen: “When selecting a sunscreen, make sure the label says:”

  • “Broad spectrum: The words “broad spectrum” means that the sunscreen can protect your skin from both types of harmful UV rays — the UVA rays and the UVB rays.”
  • “SPF 30 or higher: The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you select a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher.”
  • “Water resistant: Dermatologists also recommend that you look for the words “water resistant.” This tells you that the sunscreen will stay on wet or sweaty skin for a while before you need to reapply. Water resistance lasts either 40 or 80 minutes. Not all sunscreens offer water resistance.”