General Wellness

Summer sun protection tips

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month—arriving just ahead of summer, it reminds us that skin cancer is America’s most common cancer, with more than 5 million cases diagnosed each year, and that good sun protection is essential. Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet or UV rays from the sun, which can damage skin cells.

“A little vitamin D from the sun is healthy, but we know how dangerous too much can be to both kids and adults,” said Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Knapp. “Sun protection is important year-round, but especially so as we spend more time outside when UV rays are the strongest.”

Stay in the shade when possible and keep these skin-cancer prevention tips in mind to care for your skin this summer and beyond:

  • Gear up. Good sun protection includes a wide-brimmed hat that keeps the sun off your face and shoulders and sunglasses to protect your eyes. Long sleeves and pants are also helpful, when possible.
  • Layer up. Clearly, sunscreen is a must—and regular application is key. Apply before you head outside and pay attention to time limits. If your sunscreen bottle asks you to “reapply every three hours,” set a timer and do so! In general, the higher the sun protection factor (SPF), the better.
  • Check out clothing with built-in ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) that acts similar to sunscreen. Just remember to layer your sunscreen underneath if you plan on removing layers.
  • Pay attention to the clock. You are more likely to get a sunburn when the sun is strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Do your best to schedule your outside time before and after these hours.

And don’t forget to do regular self-skin checks to stay on top of any changes, and schedule your annual dermatologist appointment for a full-body check.

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