While exposure to sunlight can be beneficial, getting too much can be harmful. Prolonged sun exposure can damage the skin and increase the risk of skin cancer (TRICARE covers skin cancer exams). The good news is that there are ways you can keep your skin protected and still have fun in the sun.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers in the U.S. The most preventable cause of skin cancer according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, either from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds and sunlamps. Because it’s natural to want to be out in the sun during summer months, the best way to reduce your risk of skin damage (wrinkles, sun spots), eye damage and skin cancer is to practice proper sun protection. Follow these sun safety tips from CDC to help protect yourself:
- Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. Reapply if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours, and after you swim or sweat excessively.
- Cover up with protective, breathable clothing (T-shirt or beach cover-up).
- Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears and neck.
- Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that wrap around and block UV radiation.
- Stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun is the strongest. Or, seek shade under an umbrella, tree, or shelter during midday hours.
- Avoid indoor tanning.
Anyone can get skin cancer. 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. You may be at higher risk because of family or personal history of skin cancer, increased occupational or recreational exposure to sunlight, or clinical evidence of precursor lesions.
While the sun can do you good, remember too much exposure without protection can be dangerous. Avoid consequences of prolonged sun exposure by taking steps to protect your skin when you go outside.
Check out more tips for enjoying a safe and healthy summer from TRICARE.