Now more than ever, we can appreciate the freedom to be outdoors—especially now that summer is here. But while a little summer sun may make you look healthier, that is not necessarily the case. Dermatologists tell us that there is no such thing as a healthy tan. More than 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year in the United States. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are the leading cause of skin cancer (as well as causing sunburn, eye damage and premature wrinkles).

The good news is that most skin cancers are preventable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that staying in the shade, shielding your skin with clothing, and using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 can help lower your risk. Here are seven more tips to keep you safe in the sun!

  1. Damage from exposure to UV rays builds up over time, so sun protection should start as early as possible.
  2. Not all sunscreen is created equal. Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Reapply at least every two hours. If you are swimming or sweating, you’ll need to reapply as well.
  3. Choose the shade. Limit your direct exposure to the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.
  4. Cover up. When you are outdoors, wear clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect as much skin as possible from the sun.
  5. Sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement! Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts and other vision problems. Wrap-around sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection.
  6. Remember that sunburns and skin damage can occur even on cloudy or overcast days.
  7. Tans do not offer protection against future sunburns. A “base tan&8221; is actually a sign of skin damage.

Visit our Doctor & Hospital Finder to locate a dermatologist who can help you keep your body’s largest organ glowingly healthy.