Summer is here and for many that means enjoying more outdoor activities.  However, Covenant Health System warns that as the weather gets warmer, it’s important to remember sun safety due to the dangers of skin cancer.

Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet light in just 15 minutes—even when it is cloudy and cool.  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.  Skin cancer is diagnosed in more than two million people annually. The good news is that the majority of skin cancers are curable.

“It is important that people be aware of the effects of the sun as the incidence of skin cancer is on the rise,” Darla Porter, R.N., M.S.N., F.N.P.-C, a nurse practitioner for Covenant, said.  “Knowing the signs and how to protect yourself are key in preventing this disease.

Many people understand that those who have fair complexions are at higher risk, but they don’t know that family history, eye color, an atypical or multiple moles or severe sunburns in childhood can exacerbate the threat.”

Covenant Health System offers the following tips for healthy outdoor fun to help prevent over-exposure to the sun:

  • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Seek shade, especially in the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are the strongest
  • Use protective clothing, such as a shirt, to guard as much skin as possible
  • Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher
  • Be sure to reapply after swimming, toweling dry or perspiring
  • Wear a hat

By incorporating these simple steps into your outdoor activity plans, your risk for skin cancer can reduce dramatically.  Covenant encourages everyone to be aware of the signs of skin cancer—a change in the size or color of a mole; change in the appearance of a bump or nodule; the spread of pigmentation beyond its border; or a change in sensation, itchiness, tenderness or pain.