Extreme UV rays in July could lead to long-term skin damage, Waco doctors explain

Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 6:19 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - July has the strongest UV rays in Central Texas, especially this year, but this doesn’t mean it’s the best month to spend time in the sun.

The UV Index typically ranges from high to extremely high during the hottest parts of the day. This means the sun could burn your skin within 10 to 20 minutes.

UV rays can not only burn your skin, but it can have long-term effects like wrinkles, sunspots or skin cancer.

To protect your skin, Waco dermatologist for U.S. Dermatology Partners Waco, Dr. Greg Walker, recommends applying sunscreen that is no less than SPF 35. He also said mineral-based sunscreen provides the most protection.

Regardless of what kind of sunscreen you use, he recommends reapplying sunscreen every 90 minutes or less, especially since the extreme heat causes sweat and increases water activities.

If possible, he recommends staying out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This time period is when UV rays are the strongest.

“The sun damage doesn’t really get you now,” Walker said. “You have a nice tan, and then it goes into winter. It kind of goes away, and you get it the next summer. But it is an investment in your skin’s health in the future. And that can be a hard concept to grasp, but your skin will thank you in 20 years when you have fewer wrinkles, fewer sunspots, and most importantly, less skin cancer on your skin.”

Some may think the stronger rays means a quicker tan, but Waco dermatologist for Epiphany Dermatology, Martin Hatch, said tanning could have long-term negative consequences as well.

“We say there’s no safe tan, so there’s no safe amount of UV exposure,” Hatch said. “Skin cancer typically occurs as a result of sun damage that you’ve accumulated over the course of your life, so it may be many years before that develops. But, you want to protect yourself now so that you’re not developing skin cancer later in life.”

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancers in the U.S., and it’s usually caused from skin damage. In most cases, it is preventable.

Hatch recommends wearing and reapplying generous amounts of sunscreen if you plan on tanning or being out in the sun for long periods of time.

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