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Be Sun Smart

July is Ultraviolet Safety Month. It is no coincidence that the US Department of Health and Human Services chose to highlight the dangers of sun exposure during this peak summer month. Their goal is to spread awareness of the harmful effects of UV rays on skin. Interestingly, this year the possibility of exposure to UV rays during a gel manicure has been another topic of discussion.

Gel manicures and UV rays

Gel manicures have become a popular salon treatment in recent years. This type of manicure lasts significantly longer than a traditional manicure. Gel manicures are applied with a brush but are additionally cured under a UV light where they effectively harden into plastic. Is there a risk of skin cancer from the little light box that manicurists use? The experts say that the risk is minimal but recommend wearing sunscreen on your hands.

Indoor tanning beds

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no such thing as a safe tan. Some of the selling points of indoor tanning that the CDC debunks include:

• Indoor tanning is not safer than tanning in the sun
• A base tan is not safe
• It is not a safe source of vitamin D

Identifying Skin Cancers

American Cancer Society resources include a skin cancer gallery and a collection of videos that explain risk factors and what to look for on your skin. There is a wealth of information including instructions for doing a skin self-exam.

Why protect your skin from UV rays

It is important to use the correct amount and type of sunscreen to gain the maximum benefit. A minimum SPF of 15, applied every 2 hours is the generally accepted standard. Other things that you can do include staying in the shade, wearing protective clothing, hats, sunglasses and avoiding the sun when its UV radiation is most intense between 10am and 4pm. The benefits of sun protection include:

• Skin cancer prevention
• Prevent the premature aging of skin
• Sunburn prevention
• Prevention of age spots

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