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Protect your skin against sun damage this summer

As we are outside enjoying the summer sunshine, remember the importance of protecting our skin from the sun's dangerous ultraviolet rays. Those who get more sun exposure and its ultraviolet (UV) rays are at a higher rate of developing skin cancers. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. 90% of most skin cancers are directly related to UV ray exposure from the sun. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetimes. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer combined.

Avoiding sunlight altogether is not a good option; we need to be outside getting lots of exercise and enjoying the sunshine whenever we can. We also need sunlight for our bodies to make Vitamin D, which has many health benefits such as stronger bones.

Be mindful to protect children and the elderly from sunlight damage. Their skin types are more likely to burn or become damaged sooner than adults. The same this is true for those with fair skin as well as those who tend to burn easily or are very sensitive to sun exposure. There are also certain medications that may increase sensitivity to sun exposure.

Drinking plenty of water during times of outdoor activity is also good for the skin and overall hydration. Limiting beverages such as alcohol and caffeinated drinks help keep us better hydrated. Wear lighter colored clothing that is loose fitting to help the breeze cool yourself off while outside.

Here are some additional tips from the American Cancer Society to help protect you from Ultraviolet light from the sun.

Use the steps of SHADE/SLIP/SLOP/SLAP/WRAP to protect yourself while in the sun.
• "SHADE" yourself from the sun. By limiting direct sun exposure to sunlight, you reduce the damage produced by UV light.

• "SLIP" on a long sleeved shirt and long pants when outside if possible to limit direct sun exposure.

• "SLOP" on sunscreen (at least SPF30) to exposed skin while outside. Apply sunscreen correctly (1 palm full of sunscreen should cover the arms/legs/face/neck of an average adult). If using spray-on sunscreen, spray evenly over all exposed areas of skin, to include the head and scalp. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours while outside. If sunscreen is "water resistant", reapply every 40-80 minutes to ensure proper protection.

• "SLAP" on a hat that has at least 2-3 inches of brim protection all around to protect the head/face/neck. A handkerchief or bandana can also be used to protect the neck.

• "WRAP" on a pair of sunglasses to protect the eyes and the surrounding skin. Ideally, sunglasses should be rated to protect UV rays.

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