Ancient weather forecaster looks outside and sees the sun and reports, "Sunny and hot day, better stay in the shade." Old school weather prognosticator looks at weather map green screen and sees a picture of the sun (with sunglasses on) over his or her city and reports, "Sunny and hot day, better stay in the shade." Current weather expert reads Ultra Violet (UV) Index of 8 for his or her city and states "Sunny and hot day, better stay in the shade." Say what?
If this whole skin protection was not complicated enough, we now have indices regarding the strength of the sun's UV rays to muddy the waters. We seem to measure everything these days and the sun's power to effect damage on our skin is yet another calculation to consider along with SPF. Actually, if one understands the purpose of the UV Index, then it can be a helpful consideration in developing a plan for skin care.
The UV index defined
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the UV Index scale, which is used in the United States conforms with international guidelines for UVI reporting as established by the World Health Organization (WHO).1 This scale is designed to help you avoid harmful exposure to UV radiation.1 In a nutshell, pay attention because it gives you good information, which can help shield you from the harmful effects of the sun.
The UV index explained
In a nutshell, here is the UV Index and how it can inform you.
UV Index reading of 3-5 means moderate danger. Stay in the shade during the middle of the day. Wear protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses. Apply 30+SPF sunscreen generously every two hours, even on cloudy days and especially after swimming or exercise.1
UV Index reading of 6-11 means high-extreme danger. Unprotected skin can burn in just a few minutes. Stay in the shade from 10:00am-4:00pm. Wear protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses. Apply 30+SPF sunscreen generously every two hours, even on cloudy days and especially after swimming or exercise.1
The shadow rule
And this, which I like very much (I am a pretty simple guy), "The Shadow Rule." "If your shadow is taller than you are (in the early morning and late afternoon), your UV exposure is likely to be lower. If your shadow is shorter than you are (around midday), you are being exposed to higher levels of UV radiation. Seek shade and protect your skin and eyes."1
I like The Shadow Rule as long as I don't have to actually measure the shadow against my actual height. If I can just eye ball it, I am good. And the UV Index seems pretty easy to understand, low numbers, good, high numbers, bad. Although that is the opposite of SPF, which is low numbers, bad, and high numbers, good. We are all good as long as we don't mix them up.
How well have your skin cancer diagnoses been explained to you?