Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can cause skin damage in as little as 15 minutes. Prolonged exposure and damage can lead to various forms of skin cancer, many of which, thankfully, are preventable. Before you head outside to enjoy the warm weather and sunshine, here’s what you need to know to about sun safety and protecting your skin.

  •  Higher SPF numbers indicate increased protection. Use sunscreen even on cloudy or cool days as damage from the sun’s rays can still occur. Re-apply every two hours or after swimming or when sweating.
  • Proper, protective sunglasses help prevent damage to the sensitive skin around your eyes, as well as cataracts.
  • You can reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by seeking shade under an umbrella, tree or other shelter. Even when you are in shade, be sure to protect your skin by using sunscreen or wearing protective clothing.
  • Be extra careful around water and sand. These surfaces reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of getting a sunburn.
  • Limit the amount of time you’re in the sun between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. This is when the sun’s rays are the most intense.
  • If possible, wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Dark clothing with tightly woven fabric blocks more sun than white or loosely woven fabrics. For additional protection, look for clothes made with special sun-protective materials.
  • Accessorize with a hat that shades your face, neck, and ears and a pair of sunglasses. Sunglasses with lenses that have 99% to 100% UV absorption provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
  • Look for any changes to moles, freckles or birthmarks. Additionally, monitor any new skin changes that have occurred. Use a mirror to evaluate hard-to-see areas, and have regular skin evaluations by your health care provider or dermatologist.
  • Maintain healthy skin by not smoking. Smoking damages collagen and elastin in your skin. Treat your skin gently by using mild soaps and daily moisturizers. Limit hot showers as this can strip essential oils from your skin. Pat dry after bathing to retain moisture in your skin. Eat a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plenty of water.