The sun is useful for so many things as it provides life-giving light, heat, and energy to our planet. However, the sun can also do great harm to your skin due to the ultraviolet radiation it emits through both visible and invisible rays.

The invisible rays, known as ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB), cause most of the problems, including suntan, sunburn and sun damage.

The sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) rays are known as “aging” rays because UVA can cause wrinkles and age spots. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are known as the “burning” rays because UVB rays cause sunburn. Both types of ultraviolet rays reach the earth every day no matter the season; and can damage your skin even on a cloudy day.

How do you safely work and play outdoors this summer without increasing your risk for skin cancer or premature aging?

1. Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more to all exposed skin. Broad-spectrum provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Pro Tips: Check the expiration date on your product to ensure proper protection. Apply 1oz of sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outdoors, and remember to set a timer and reapply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.

2. Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and swimsuit cover-ups. Pro Tip: Look for clothing with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) 50 fabric to block 98% of the sun’s rays.

3. The sun’s rays are strongest between the hours of 10:00AM and 4:00PM. Avoid direct exposure by seeking shaded areas during these times. Pro Tips: .Adjust your schedule so that you miss midday sun and crowds at the beach. And use an umbrella!

4. Protect children from damaging sun exposure by applying sunscreen and dressing them in protective clothing and accessories such as hats and sunglasses. Pro Tip: Use sun tents for the beach and seek out shaded areas for play.

5. Take extra precautions around water, sand, and snow as they reflect and intensify the damaging UV rays of the sun, and greatly increase your chance of sunburn. Pro Tip: Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the tops of your feet and the back of your ears.

If during your self self-exam you notice a mole that differs from another spot on your skin, or if it changes, itches or bleeds, schedule an appointment with us here at Mitchell Dermatology right away. These changes can be signs of skin cancer. However, with early detection and treatment by your dermatologist, skin cancer has a high cure success rate!

For more skin care tips follow @mitchelldermatology on Instagram