We live and thrive under the sun, but we have to protect ourselves from its light - all year round. The sun doesn’t take a break from shining ultraviolet (UV) rays just because we’re building snowmen. Since we need sunshine for a healthy life, what can you do to make sure you're protected?
First, know the risks
No skin is immune to the sun. While fair-skinned people have the highest skin cancer rates, people with darker skin tones are also at risk. Bottom line is that everyone should protect their skin from harmful UV rays.
Some people are at greater risk for skin cancer. Be extra cautious if you have any of these traits:
- Blond or red hair
- Blue or green eyes
- Certain types of moles
- Family history of skin cancer
- Large number of moles
- Personal history of skin cancer
- Skin that becomes painful when exposed to the sun
- Skin that burns, freckles, or reddens easily
People who use tanning booths, tanning beds, sun beds, or sun lamps are also at greater risk. Even though the UV rays aren't coming from the sun, they're still dangerous.
Reduce the risk
When you’re outside, practice sun safety. Even on hazy and cloudy days. Sun damage can also occur from UV rays that reflect off water, glass, and even cement.
Below are some protection tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Avoid indoor tanning
- Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours
- Umbrellas aren’t just for rain; they can block the sun too.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and one that contains broad-spectrum protection (this means it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays)
- Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears, and neck
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs
- Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays
Finally, timing is crucial. The sun is most dangerous in the United States between 10 am and 4 pm. In North America, UV rays are strongest during the spring and early summer.
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Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Skin Cancer Foundation
The information provided is meant for a general audience. Capital BlueCross and its affiliated companies believe this health education resource provides useful information but does not assume any liability associated with its use.