July is Ultraviolet (UV) safety awareness month. UV rays are invisible rays that are part of the energy that comes from the sun. They can burn the skin, and cause skin cancer.

With temperatures nearing the 30’s and the UV index reading very high this past weekend, it is the perfect time to talk sun safety.

Dr. Jasmine Hasselback, one of the medical health officers for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, lent her expertise.
“I’m always glad to have this type of conversation as we tend to forget about the harm that can come from having fun in the sun."

Hasselback shared that prevention is really the best defense against sunburns and the risks that come along with them. Sunburns in themselves can be very painful and can even require a visit to the doctor.

To provide some relief from a sunburn, put a cold, damp towel on your skin. Use a moisturizer that contains aloe vera. Take ibuprofen to reduce swelling and help with pain and drink plenty of extra water.

Sun poisoning is a burn that causes blisters or inflammation of the skin, pain, itching, fever, chills, nausea and dizziness. Sun poisoning can also cause dehydration, infection and shock, which can be life-threatening.
If you suspect you might have sun poisoning it is important to see a doctor right away.

Aside from the initial sunburn, sun exposure can cause greater and more long-term effects such as accelerated aging of the skin and skin cancer.
Skin cancer, is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells and is the most common of all cancer types. About one third of all new cases of cancer in Canada are skin cancers.
One of the main causes of skin cancer is being exposed to UV rays.

So back to prevention, Dr. Hasselback expressed, that while wearing sunscreen is the number one sunburn defense, we seldom apply enough or often enough.
“Sun screen is a crucial part of the picture. We should apply sunscreen usually every two hours and make sure it contains at least an SPF of 30 and make sure it’s water resistant.” Hasselback adds, “That's really just part of it though, we should also look for shade as much as possible and wear clothing that acts as a barrier to the sun, including a hat.”

Hasselback also cautioned that we should remember that UV rays are still filtering through the clouds.
“Those are often the sneaky days where you don’t think of sun protection as much, so a good idea would be to check the UV index for the day.”

A UV index of 6 to 7 is a high reading and extra care should be taken. This is especially true for the hours between 12-4 when the sun is at it’s hottest.

Dr. Hasselback also recommends visiting ‘Sun Smart Saskatchewan’ for any other questions regarding sun safety.