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Office Visit: Shield Your Skin From the Summer Sunshine

By Todd Hoffman, M.D.
Note: This article appeared as a guest column in the Journal Record 

We are officially into the heat of summer! July and August routinely usher in the hottest temperatures of the year in Oklahoma.

There are countless ways to enjoy the outdoors in our great state. Regardless of what activity keeps you and your family occupied, protecting your skin from sun exposure is an important step in how to beat the heat.

July is UV Safety Awareness Month. Too much exposure to UV light has been linked to most skin cancers. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention describes UV rays as an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps. These rays can damage skin cells.

The good news is you can take precautions against those UV rays while still enjoying Mother Nature during the summer. Here are a few tips:

Don’t forget the sunscreen

Remember to apply a sunscreen that filters out both UVA and UVB rays and has SPF of at least 15 prior to stepping outside. Put on a thick layer to all exposed areas and reapply if you are outside for more than two hours.

BCBSIL CMO Dr. Todd Hoffman

Todd Hoffman, M.D.

Coverage is good

Clothing like long-sleeved shirts and long pants can provide better protection from UV rays. If that isn’t an option, put on a T-shirt or something to cover your exposed areas.

Be head smart

A wide-brimmed hat that covers the face, ears and back of your neck work better than a ballcap. Tightly woven fabric provide better protection than straw hats. Sunglasses that guard against UVA and UVB rays help guard your eyes and reduce the risk of cataracts.

Made in the shade

Using an umbrella, tree or other shelter as shade can also help limit your exposure. You still need to use sunscreen and protective clothing when in the shade. Also try to avoid the middle of the day when the UV rays are the strongest.

Keep these tips in mind while you’re out in the sun this summer. Your skin will thank you for it.

Make it a good month!

Todd Hoffman, M.D., C.P.E., is chief medical officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, a division of Health Care Service Corp., a Mutual Legal Reserve Company.

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association