July is UV Safety Month
July is UV Safety Month, and pharmacists can help make a difference in the lives of their clients with some simple tools and resources to help raise awareness. Pharmacists can get in touch with their local school district to meet with teachers on the importance of instructing students about the dangers of UV rays. Administrators can show films or presentations, and making students aware of the dangers of UV rays before summer vacation begins can be helpful in ensuring they maintain healthy habits when out in the sun.
The first and most important method of dialogue to open is with parents. Ensuring that a family is following a sun care routine while outdoors is advisable. This includes sunscreen, appropriate clothing, and limiting sun exposure to times where UV rays will not be at their peak. Many sunscreens are now paraben free, and pharmacists should take care to note the varieties available to customers. Waterproof sunscreen is recommended for those who will be swimming or active outdoors while participating in sports, gardening, or other activities. Be sure that parents know that even lips can get sunburned, and carry lip balm or gloss that also has an adequate SPF rating. The most often ignored areas for sunscreen include the back of the neck, joints (elbows, knees) and feet. Ensuring full sunscreen coverage may help prevent sunburn. Clients should also be reminded of the symptoms of heat stroke, and how to treat and prevent it. Ensuring adequate hydration while participating in outdoor activities is critical.
Many websites have numerous press kits that are available to download with a wealth of printable resources to distribute to customers regarding UV Safety Month. Social media can also help spread awareness, and your pharmacy’s Twitter, Facebook, or blogging platform can help to get the word out. Hosting a community event at a local YMCA or park is another way that customers can learn more about UV awareness and test their knowledge. Events such as a tree planting to help increase eventual shade at a local park, or an indoor community health and awareness fair at a pool may also be beneficial. Remind customers that peak UV exposure happens from 10:00-4:00, and to avoid sun exposure as much as possible during those times.
UV exposure is the leading cause of skin cancers. Networking with a local dermatologist to obtain dispensable literature regarding the warning signs of skin cancers can be helpful. Patients with a family history of skin cancer may wish to follow up with a dermatologist to assess their individual risk, and obtain more information. A dermatologist can also speak to your community about the methods used to check for skin cancer warning signs, and answer any queries that clients may have regarding their sun exposure.
Pharmacists can ensure that summer is safe and clients are limiting their UV exposure this month and beyond by following these simple strategies. What are some tools that your location has used to raise awareness of UV safety?