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Officials urge residents to protect their skin from the sun's rays

Don't forget the sunscreen when going outside.

With warmer, sunnier weather at hand and people headed to the beach or the park, health officials are urging residents to take precautions against skin damage, which can lead to skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the nation.

Melanomas are the most deadly kind of skin cancer and are caused by caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. In 2011, almost 66,000 people got a diagnosis and more than 9,000 died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

County and federal health officials recommend, using broad spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

Don’t forget lip balm and sunglasses that protect from UVA and UVB rays.

Also, cover up with a hat or seek shade. This is especially important from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when harmful rays are strongest.

Avoid indoor tanning.

In Anne Arundel County, where the incidence of melanoma is 50 percent higher than the rest of the state, the health department has a Learn To Live program that urges residents to protect themselves year-round.

County residents can order a free kit that includes information on selecting and applying sunscreen and checking your skin. A lip balm may also be included. Call 410-222-7979 or go to


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