Health Dept.: Tips to help protect yourself and your family from skin damage, cancer

Now that warm weather is here, most people are spending more time outside in the sun. Did you know that the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes? Follow these recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help protect yourself and your family.

Seek shade

You can reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by seeking shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter.

Wear the right clothing

When possible, long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts can provide protection from UV rays. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection. A wet T-shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one, and darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors. Look for UV protective clothing that is specifically designed to block the sun’s rays.

Wear a hat

For the most protection, wear a hat with a wide brim all the way around that shades your face, ears, and the back of your neck. A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works best to protect your skin from UV rays. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. If you wear a baseball cap, you should also protect your ears and the back of your neck by wearing clothing that covers those areas, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 on your ears and neck, or by staying in the shade.

Wear sunglasses

Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure. Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Most sunglasses sold in the United States, regardless of cost, meet this standard. Wrap-around sunglasses work best because they block UV rays from sneaking in from the side.

Use sunscreen

Put on broad spectrum sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB rays. Use a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least with at least 15; SPF 30 is preferred. Apply sunscreen before you go outside, even on slightly cloudy or cool days. Don’t forget to put a thick layer on all parts of exposed skin. Get help for hard-to-reach places like your back. And remember, sunscreen works best when combined with the other options above to prevent UV damage. Remember to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours! Even water-resistant and waterproof sunscreen needs to be reapplied after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.

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