Stay safe from the sun this Memorial Day weekend

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Many Central New Yorkers are happy to hear the sun should be shining bright this Memorial Day weekend, but are people prepared for the sun’s potentially harmful rays?

“The sun can definitely cause skin cancers, it can increase the risk of non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers. So, that’s one bad effect,” Dr. Ramsey Farah, Co-Owner of Farah Dermatology and Cosmetics said. “The other issue that it can produce is it can make our skin look older and can physiologically aid it and degrade the functions of the skin.”

No matter the skin tone, everyone is susceptible to a sunburn.

Below are some ways you can protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays:

  • Wear sunscreen
  • Avoid the sun when it’s at its highest point in the sky (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim
  • Wear protective clothing

Of all the options, the most important thing to do is to wear sunscreen.

“The SPF should be 30 or above, but it shouldn’t be below 30, I think that’s the cutoff point,” Dr. Farah said. “Also, it needs to have protection against both UVA and UVB, so it must say that it protects from both of them. As a general rule, I like the physical blockers. So, the ones that have ingredients that say zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.”

Doctors also recommend that you reapply sunscreen every two or three hours, even on a cloudy day.

Dr. Farah said, “About 80 percent of the UV rays still go through the clouds. So, if you’re out on a cloudy day, and you’re out for five or six hours there’s the real possibility of getting burned.”

If your day in the sun results in a burn, the damage to the skin is already done, but something as simple as aspirin can help relieve the pain. 

“So, the most immediate thing you can do is take an aspirin,” Dr. Farah said. “And the reason for that, is aspirin has some anti-inflammatory effects. So, it can calm down some of the inflammation that occurs with this very intense injury to the skin.”

Dr. Farah also says a weak hydrocortisone can help relieve the pain.

Most importantly, if a mole develops or if you see changes in any moles on your skin, contact your doctor as it could be a sign of skin cancer.

“For pigmented lesions or lesions that have color to them, a change in shape, size or color is really significant,” Dr. Farah said. “If it gets bigger, if you all of the sudden notice a new color, generally speaking, the colors of red, white and blue which we love to see in our flag, but we don’t want to see those colors in our moles. A really dark, black pigment is also concerning.”

Despite some of the potential risks, the sun offers the human body great benefits. So, make sure to protect yourself, get outside and get a good dose of vitamin D this Memorial Day weekend. 

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