The Friday before Memorial Day has been designated "Don't Fry Day" by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, to remind Americans about the importance of sun safety.
"As we move into spring and summer, many Americans will start spending more time outdoors. However, exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun and indoor tanning can increase the risk of skin cancer," Carolyn Heckman, chair of the Don't Fry Day campaign, said in a council news release.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with nearly 5 million cases diagnosed each year. That's more than breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers combined.
"Taking the time to get educated about the risks of UV exposure, along with taking steps to protect yourself from UV rays can make a big difference for your health while still allowing the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities," Heckman said. She is an associate professor in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
Here are six tips for protecting your skin:
- Use sunscreen whenever you're outdoors. Liberally apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 before outdoor activities. A broad-spectrum product offers protection from UVA and UVB rays, according to the experts. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before heading out.
- Reapply sunscreen frequently. Put sunscreen on again every two hours while you're outside, or more often if you're swimming or sweating.
- Stay indoors when the sun is strongest. Try to stay inside or in the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Take extra care near water or sand. The sun's rays are stronger when they reflect off sand or water, so you may burn faster.
- Cover up. It's not always feasible, but when you can, cover up as much skin as possible. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses can protect your face and eyes.
- Don't intentionally try to tan.