*Portions of this release were provided by the New York State Department of Health
GENESEO, N.Y., July 27, 2023 – With temperatures expected to touch 90 degrees this week, the Livingston County Department of Health, in conjunction with the New York State Department of Health, is reminding residents of the importance of protecting their skin from harmful ultra-violet rays that can cause serious skin problems as part of UV Awareness Month.
Skin cancer most often develops because of an overexposure to UV rays, either from natural sunlight or from tanning devices, such as lamps, tanning beds and tanning booths. While some characteristics including lighter natural skin color, blonde or red hair or a family history of skin cancer can increase your chances on developing skin cancer, anyone can be afflicted.
UV exposure can having potentially serious and deadly consequences as it has been estimated that 90 percent of melanomas, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are caused by ultraviolet rays. Each year, more than 4,200 New Yorkers are diagnosed with melanoma, as it has become the ninth deadliest form of cancer. Melanoma claims nearly 400 lives in every year. Because melanoma occurs less frequently among non-white racial-ethnic groups, when it does occur, it's often diagnosed at a later stage, resulting in a worse prognosis.
In observance of UV Awareness Month, the Department urges New Yorkers to follow these recommendations to protect skin from UV rays:
- Never use a tanning bed or booth or a sun lamp.
- Wear a wide brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever possible when outdoors.
- Wear sunglasses that block UV rays, which can also reduce the risk of cataracts.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, which blocks out 93 percent of UV rays.
- Sunscreen should be applied to dry skin at least 15 minutes before going outdoors and again after swimming or perspiring.
- Avoid the direct midday sun, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest.
Young people are particularly vulnerable to the effects of UV rays. Exposure during childhood and adolescence plays a role in the future development of skin cancer, including deadly melanoma. Babies under six months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight and their skin should be covered with protective clothing and hats. As children tend to spend more time outdoors, their skin can burn more easily. Adults should ensure children are protected from excess sun exposure with protective clothing, sunscreen applied to exposed skin before they go outside, and limited time in the sun, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Using tanning devices, such as beds, booths and sunlamps to capture a summer glow is no safer than natural sunlight. Tanning devices cause the same damage to skin, increasing the risks of skin cancer. New York State Public Health Law prohibits those under the age of 18 from using UV radiation devices and requires photo proof of age for use of such devices. The use of tanning devices is discouraged, but adults who do so should follow the recommendations outlined in the Tanning Hazards Information Sheet.
"Enjoying time in the sun with friends and family is a great way to have fun and be physically active, but it's also important to take preventive steps to avoid UV radiation exposure," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "A simple but important precaution is to use sunscreen when you are outside, even on cloudy days or when you are in the shade, and to wear protective clothing, such as hats, sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts."
For more information about UV safety, view and download the Department's Take a Stand Against the Tan flyer. More information on sun safety can be found by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
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About Livingston County:
Founded in 1821, Livingston County, N.Y., is comprised of more than 61,000 residents in 17 towns located across 631 square miles of the Finger Lakes region.