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Ten ways to protect yourself from the sun's rays

A woman applying sunscreen to her leg

When my teenage daughter arrived home the other day with a sunburned face, I asked her why she didn't use her sunscreen. She answered with, "I did Mom! I put it on this morning." But since she was out all day and never re-applied it, she still got a sunburn.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year and those rates are on the rise. That's why it's more important than ever to take precautions like these to protect your skin from the sun:

  1. If you can't avoid the sun altogether, cover up with clothing. Hats and clothing made of dark, tightly woven materials are best.
  2. Keep in mind that UV exposure is harmful to your eyes as well as your skin, so put on a pair of sunglasses and be sure your kids do, too.
  3. Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Spread it on generously and use the waterproof kind if you'll be swimming.
  4. Watch the expiration dates on sunscreen. Once it expires, discard and get a new bottle.
  5. Apply your sunscreen early, and unlike my daughter, apply it often, every two hours. If you're sweating or swimming, apply it even more frequently.
  6. Remember to cover those sensitive spots like tops of the ears, hairline, chest, nose, hands and feet.
  7. Give up sunbathing, especially if you're fair skinned. Avoid sun tanning oils which can enhance ultraviolet rays and worsen sunburn.
  8. Protect your skin all year round, no matter what the weather. Clouds don't keep the damaging rays from burning your skin, and neither does a winter climate.
  9. Use extra precautions if you take medications like tetracycline, diuretics or St. John's Wort. They can make your skin even more sensitive to sunlight.
  10. Avoid tanning beds. They produce UVA rays that penetrate deeper into the skin than the UVB rays of the sun.

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