Summer is the season of sunshine, but basking in the warm rays may put you at risk for developing skin cancer, the most common type of cancer affecting Americans.

“When we lay out to tan, we increase our chances of developing skin cancer, especially if we are already at high risk,” said Monte E. Martin, MD, medical director, CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center in Bardstown. “If you have light skin, blue or green eyes, blonde or red hair, freckles, large moles, or a history of cancer yourself or in your family, protecting your skin is especially important.”

A plan for prevention

woman gardening

To help your skin stay as healthy as possible:

Cover up. Choose lightweight clothing that covers your arms and legs and a hat to protect your face and head when you are outside.

Have a check up. Talk with your primary care provider about regular skin cancer screenings.

Lather your skin. Opt for broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher. Reapply throughout the day, especially after sweating or swimming.

Seek shade. Stay out of the sun during peak hours in the midday, or from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Keep an eye out. If you notice a spot or growth on your skin that is new or has changed in color, size or texture, see your primary care provider.

Wear sunglasses. This favorite summer accessory can block out ultraviolet A and B rays.

To schedule a skin cancer screening, call 859.313.2255.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 edition of Spirit of Health magazine. Subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine to read more stories like this one.