The largest organ of the human body is right under our nose. And everywhere else we look, too, because it is our skin! One sign of how we take our skin for granted is that we don’t often recognize it as an organ.

Yes, the skin performs a role in metabolism and other essential processes, protects and cools the body, and holds everything where it belongs. It’s not only big, but also a hard worker.

But one thing we must do in return is protect our skin from the many harms that come with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV is part of the light spectrum we get from the sun, and it’s not the part that’s good for us. UV protection is so important that we devote sunny July every year to raising awareness of it.

As Big a Hazard as Any Workplace

It’s a sign of the importance and reality of UV protection that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services includes it among its occupational health campaigns and resources. When we think of miners and steel workers and first responders and other lines of work with more dramatic exposures, it may be hard to realize. But UV threatens the health of more people than any other single occupational hazard, because we all share this hazard in common.

And it’s hazard that applies to both work and play.

Widespread Threat – Many Protections

Because we confront the hazard of UV exposure whenever we go outdoors, it might be comforting to know there are many ways to protect ourselves.

What we wear is a first line of defense against UV radiation. A hat is a good fashion habit to adopt whenever we are outdoors. Long sleeves and trousers are right for outdoor exercise, even in warm weather months, thanks to today’s “miracle fibers.” And remember, even on cloudy days UV is part of the light that still gets through to us. Springing for sunglasses that are UV-resistant is worthwhile. And like your other outdoor duds, they can be stylish, too.

Seek the shade and be aware of reflective environments. Surfaces like sand, water, and snow bounce UV radiation back at you, so it’s not just coming from above.

Be vigilant against sunburn, and protect children from it. Sunburn increases our chance of developing skin cancer, and the buildup of lifetime exposure increases this risk even further.

Cancer Screening: An Essential Part of UV Safety

The American Cancer Society offers handy tips on cancer screening. After all, there are parts of the skin we never see, and the signs of skin cancer can masquerade, even when we see them. As we’ve said elsewhere, do you want to bet your life on your own ability to tell the difference between a mole and a deadly melanoma?

So, it’s a good idea every year to get a once-over from a professional. Just call us at 843-815-6468.