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High-tech wearable UV patch aims to improve sun safety

High-tech sun protection
Wearable UV patch helps guard against sun damage, skin cancer 01:47

One in five Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetime. The damage from too much sun exposure doesn't usually appear until years later. 

But now there's a new high-tech way to monitor the potentially hazardous health effects of time in the sun — in real time.

My UV Patch and smartphone app detect UV exposure. CBS News

Junior lifeguard-in-training Tatiana Cruz spends a lot of time in the sun and is doing what she can to protect herself.

"I use a lot of sunscreen. I like to re-load on the sunscreen every two hours," she told CBS News.

The 16-year-old says she's worried about getting skin cancer so she's trying a high-tech wearable called My UV Patch to help monitor her sun exposure. It contains photosensitive dyes that change color when exposed to ultraviolet rays.

Users scan the patch with a smartphone app and receive sun safety tips based on the results.

Tatiana Cruz checks her My UV Patch app. CBS News

"This is a way to tell them when to re-apply, that there is sun damage that is going on, even if you don't see it," dermatologist Dr. Gene Rubinstein said.

He notes that sun damage is cumulative, and increasing awareness can help prevent skin cancer.

"The wearables have the potential to engage someone like a teenager or a child to where they can understand that there's a link between how much sunscreen they put on, how much time they stay outside and the sun exposure they get," Rubinstein said.
He adds that people should not solely rely on technology when it comes to being sun smart. 

Make sure to use sunscreen that provides broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. And reapply every two hours. Experts say that even on a cloudy day, about 80 percent of UV rays still reach your skin.

L'Oreal's La Roche-Posay introduced the patch in 2016 and says it can be worn for three days at a time, even while swimming. The patch is free with sunscreen purchase on the company's website.

After 20 minutes of wearing the patch, Cruz got a red alert. "I'm very surprised, I was only in the sun for just a little bit," she said.

She says her experience will encourage her to wear even more sunscreen in the future.

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