July is Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Awareness Month – Time to Put on Your Sunglasses!

hat, sunglasses, lotion, and towel on the sand

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As a Floridian, you need to protect your skin year-round from the sun, and come summertime, it’s even more important. Whether you’re going to the beach or just running in and out of stores doing errands, be sure to guard yourself from the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays which can cause skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

There are three main kinds of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. The most common type is basal cell which typically occurs in areas where your skin is the most exposed to the sun, like your neck and face, and it appears in the form of a small bump, lesion or sore. It generally grows slowly and rarely spreads to other parts of the body making it less dangerous than the least common type of skin cancer, melanoma, which also happens to be the most dangerous kind of skin cancer due to its ability to spread rapidly.

According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin, but most likely will start on the chest and back in men and on legs in women. Signs that you may have melanoma include a large brownish spot with darker speckles; a mole that changes in color, size or bleeds; or a lesion that itches or is dark in appearance. Melanoma may also appear in places not readily exposed to the sun, including your mouth or other orifices.

The good news is that you can greatly minimize the risk of getting skin cancer by protecting yourself from sun in the following ways:

#1 Wear sunscreen and make sure it’s at least SPF 30 or higher.

#2 Wear a hat, one that covers your nose and ears.

#3 Wear a long shirt, one that covers your shoulders, and the darker the color the better (darker colors allow less light to filter through to the skin compared to lighter colors).

#4 Wear sunglasses that block UV rays.

#5 Bring a beach umbrella. It’s a great place to take refuge from the sun and to reapply your suntan lotion, something you should do every couple of hours, particularly if you’re spending a lot of time in the water.

# Don’t use a tanning bed to get your pre-beach tan. Despite what some places claim, the UV rays from tanning beds absolutely can cause cancer.

Now that you know how to stay sun-safe, treat yourself to a chic new bathing suit, snazzy shirt, and fashionable hat and sunglasses. Next, make a yummy picnic with plenty of fruit and water, grab your beach umbrella and head to the sandy shores. With these key ingredients, you’re guaranteed to have a fabulous summer day.

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