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Five tips for protecting your skin from the sun

You have many options for protecting your skin while outdoors in the sun, including protecting your eyes and the skin around your eyes by wearing sunglasses. (U.S. Air Force file photo) You have many options for protecting your skin while outdoors in the sun, including protecting your eyes and the skin around your eyes by wearing sunglasses. (U.S. Air Force file photo)

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Summer is upon us and with so many sun-filled fun activities to look forward to, don’t let safety take a backseat. During times of extreme weather, your skin can be at risk of suffering the most damage. Skin protection, especially during the summer, is crucial to ensuring overall health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in just 15 minutes. Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers in the U.S. The most preventable cause of skin cancer is overexposure to UV light, either from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds and sunlamps. Be aware that indoor and outdoor tanning can be extremely harmful and should be done in a cautious and mindful manner.

You have many options for protecting your skin while outdoors in the sun. Follow these tips this summer to help protect yourself and your family:

  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher - Put on broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF15 on all parts of exposed skin before you go outside. This is a good practice even on slightly cloudy or cool days. And remember, sunscreen wears off. You may need to reapply sunscreen if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours, and after you swim or sweat excessively.
  • Wear clothing to cover your skin - When possible, wear a T-shirt or beach cover-up, in addition to sunscreen. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and skirts provide protection from UV rays.
  • Use shade - Reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by seeking shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter when the sun’s rays are strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. But don’t rely on the shade alone. You still need to remember to use protective measures, like sunscreen and protective clothing, when you’re outside.
  • Wear a hat to provide upper body shade - Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses - Protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes by wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses that wrap around work best because they block UV rays.

Anyone can develop skin cancer. However, a person’s skin pigment indicates how likely they are to sustain injury from UV rays. If you notice changes in your skin, such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in the appearance of a mole, talk to your doctor. TRICARE covers skin cancer exams for people who are at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. This includes individuals with a family or personal history of skin cancer, increased occupational or recreational exposure to sunlight, or clinical evidence of precursor lesions.

Stay tuned for more summer safety tips from TRICARE. To learn more about sun safety, visit the CDC or American Cancer Society websites.


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