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Sun safety basics

Protect yourself with these facts

This article was last updated on June 9, 2023. 

More than likely, your summer plans consist of at least a little time spent outside soaking up some sun and Vitamin D. The only problem is, those rays can also cause some real damage — like premature aging and even skin cancer. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S External Site. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation External Site says one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70 and more than two people die of skin cancer in the United States every hour.

One of the best ways to protect yourself from skin cancer is to avoid tanning beds. People who use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma External Site (a particularly dangerous type of skin cancer) by 75 percent External Site.

Sun safety basics

So, how do you enjoy the outdoors but protect yourself at the same time? Follow these simple steps.

  1. Use sunscreen and lip balm with a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours (or more frequently when swimming or sweating).
  2. Limit time spent in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  3. When in the sun, cover up with a wide-brimmed hat and loose, light clothing. Protect your eyes with sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UV rays.
  4. Sunscreen isn't just for the heat of the summer. Be sure to lather-up year round.

Check your spots and spot cancer early

Use the "ABCDE" method and check your skin and moles monthly. If you notice any of the following features, contact your primary care provider

A: Asymmetry

Mismatched sides — where one side of the mole is larger than the other

B: Border

Irregular, or jagged edges

C: Color

Inconsistent pigment or discoloration

D: Diameter

Larger than about ¼ inch

E: Evolving

Changes in size, shape or color

Have a skin concern you want to get checked out?

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Call Eight, Four, Four, Eight, Four, Be Well

Whether you're traveling or just have general health-related questions this spring and summer, a health care professional with BeWell 24/7 is here for you around-the-clock. You can also be transferred directly to a Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield customer service associate to answer your coverage questions. Of course, in the case of an emergency, call 911.