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Woman applying sunscreen on back, shoulder area.

While some exposure to sunlight can be enjoyable and even healthy, in excess the sun can be detrimental to your health. Each year in Massachusetts, more than 200 people die from a type of skin cancer called melanoma, and in 2010, over 60,000 Americans were diagnosed with it. Summertime is just around the corner, so now’s the perfect time to focus on protecting our skin from one of the most preventable types of cancer – skin cancer.

  1. Find shade whenever possible. Good options include umbrellas and trees, but make sure to keep in mind that not all types of shade are equally protective.
  2. Keep yourself safe from the dangers of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and check your area’s UV index before going out so you can dress appropriately.
  3. Adopt a sun-friendly wardrobe. Go for brightly colored clothing that is made from synthetic (man-made) fibers to help with both UV protection and heat management.  Choose sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  4. Use the most effective sunscreen practices.
    • Apply a “Broad Spectrum” sunscreen with SPF values of 15 or higher regularly and as directed that blocks UVA and UVB.
    • Your first application should be 30 minutes before you leave the house.
    • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, and more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water. Moisture can wash away even waterproof sunscreen, so reapplication is very important.
    • For more sunscreen information, take a look at this video from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  5. Protect your children from the sun by having them wear protective clothing, sunglasses, applying plenty of sunscreen, and suggesting they play in shaded areas.
  6. Infant sun safety has its own set of guidelines. Consult your pediatrician before using sunscreen on your baby.
  7. Eating light, well-balanced meals and drinking plenty of water will help keep your body ready to battle heat exhaustion.
  8. Like many things, in excess, the sun is not your friend, so try to spend some time inside especially during the sun’s peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  9. Test your knowledge with this sun safety quiz from the American Cancer Society.
  10. For more information on sun safety, check out these tips from the Department of Public Health (DPH) and this sun fact sheet by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You can also find kid-friendly sun safety resources at the Sun Safety Alliance and use these interactive games and informational pages  to teach kids how to protect themselves from the sun.

Keeping you and yours safe from overexposure is easy, and can help decrease future health risks so consider these tips and help spread the word for Sun Safety Week.

What do you do to protect yourself from the sun? Comment below or tweet us, @MassGov

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