It’s the first official day of summer! In sunny Central Florida that may not mean a lot, as we enjoy the sun’s rays nearly every day of the year, but many cities throughout the U.S. celebrate today by spending extra time outside.

Extra time outside means more need for sun protection. Everyone needs sun protection no matter their age, gender, or skin tone. Too much exposure to the sun can cause premature aging and brings an increased risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. and ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun (as well as tanning beds) is known to cause skin cancer.

There are some things that you can do to protect yourself from the sun today and every day.

Clothing. Clothes protect your skin from UV rays. Tight-woven, loose-fitting pans and long-sleeve shirts provide the most protection. A typical t-shirt has a UV protection rating of 15 or less, giving you some protection but not a lot. Consider additional sun protection as well.

Hat. A wide-brimmed hat will protect your scalp, face, ears, throat, and the back of your neck from burning. A baseball cap is better than nothing, but it leaves your ears and the back of your neck exposed. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to those areas.

Sunscreen. Look for a sunscreen that is broad spectrum, that is, protects against both UVA and UVB rays and is SPF 30-50. Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin 15 minutes before going in the sun and reapply every 90 minutes (or more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating a lot). Be sure to check the sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen lasts for around 3 years but becomes effective if it’s been exposed to high temperatures.

Sun glasses. Your eyes need sun protection, too. Too much sun exposure can lead to cataracts and excessive wrinkling around the eyes.  Similar to sunscreen, look for sun glasses that protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

Shade. Seek a shady spot to relax during the hottest times of day, between noon and 3pm. It’s a good idea to still wear sufficient clothing and sunscreen even when in the shade, but an umbrella, tree, or shelter goes a long way in protecting your skin.

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