Living in the desert Southwest poses special challenges when it comes to UV safety.
If you are new to the area, you may not realize how much of a challenge it can be. And even if you are familiar with the desert sun, if you’re not careful, trouble can still sneak up on you.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States and is diagnosed in more than 2 million Americans each year. People with fair skin, light hair and eye color, or freckles, and persons who sunburn easily are at increased risk of skin cancer. But even if you don’t fit those categories, you can still be at risk, and the prolonged days of sunlight in our region add up over time.
- UV rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm
- UV rays are stronger during spring and summer months
- Altitude is a factor – so, for example – mountain hiking can increase your exposure
- The effect of clouds can vary. Sometimes cloud cover blocks some UV from the sun and lowers exposure, while some types of clouds can reflect UV and can increase exposure.
And here in Las Vegas, it’s important to remember the problem of reflection - UV rays can bounce off surfaces like water, sand, pavement and even grass, leading to an increase in exposure.
There are very simple steps you can take to safeguard from the sun’s rays:
- Wear clothing that's dark and tightly woven
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses
- Remember to apply sunscreen liberally and evenly over all exposed areas – and don’t forget your neck, ears and lips!
- Apply a sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher – for children, SPF 30 or higher.
- And remember to re-apply often - after swimming, perspiring and toweling off.
- If you have thin or thinning hair, apply sunscreen to the scalp as well if you don’t wear hats.
- And tanning beds? Just don’t!
- Lastly - avoid the burn whenever you can - sunburns significantly increase one's lifetime risk of developing skin cancer.