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Carroll County Health Department: Protect yourself from harmful UV rays in summer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer treatment costs Americans about $8.1 billion each year.

How can you seek protection from harmful ultraviolet rays emitted from the sun?

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The Carroll County Health Department and The Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County Inc. want to give you some tips to help stay protected from those harmful rays and have fun in the sun:

  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Stay in the shade.
  • Wear protective eyewear, hats and cover ups.
  • Apply sunscreen properly (golf ball-size amount).
  • Limit your time in the sun during midday hours.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “An estimated 196,060 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2020.” The foundation says this number has been increasing every year, and it will continue to do so in upcoming generations unless we stop it here.

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There seems to be a certain stigma that comes with younger generations; being tan is sexy. More and more young teens and adults are visiting tanning salons year-round and not using protection from the sun during summer months. Social media contributes to this stigma showing celebrities tanning in the sun or advertising products that don’t meet sunscreen regulations released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Protection from the sun is important, especially during summer months. Don’t take sun protection lightly; even on cloudy days you can receive harmful amounts of UV light.

Here are some facts about suntan lotion and skin protection:

  • Suntan lotion should be an SPF of 15 or higher in order to protect against UV rays.
  • UVB rays (ultraviolet B radiation) primarily causes sunburn, skin cancer and premature aging.
  • To block both UVA and UVB rays, purchase “broad spectrum” sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside.
  • “Waterproof” or “sun proof” is not an accurate claim. No sunscreen has “instant protection,” and they only protect you from harmful rays if used correctly and reapplied.
  • Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water.
  • Report any unusual moles or changes in your skin to your doctor. Also talk to your doctor if you are at increased risk of skin cancer.

For more information visit CDC.gov or www.healthycarroll.org.

Maggie Rauser is the Carroll County Health Department’s Safe Kids coordinator.

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