Tips To Avoid Sunburn, Skin Cancer

Nothing ruins a fun day outside in the sun quite like a painful sunburn.

Getting too much sun without proper protection can lead to a nasty sunburn. It can also lead to skin cancer.

More than 3 million Americans are diagnosed with a skin cancer every year. In 2012, more than 9,000 Americans died from melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Approximately 22 out of every 100,000 North Dakota residents developed or died from melanoma of the skin in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are 10 tips and facts to help you avoid sunburn and skin cancer:

* Adults should apply sunscreen with at least 15 SPF before going outside.
* Children should use sunscreen with at least 30 SPF.
* Reapply sunscreen every two hours (more often if you’re sweating, swimming or getting wet).
* Seek shade and try to avoid direct sunlight when the sun’s rays are the strongest (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
* Children younger than 6 years old should avoid prolonged direct exposure to the sun (even with sunscreen), as their skin is more sensitive and can burn easily.
* Wear UV protecting sunglasses, caps and clothing.
* A base tan will not prevent you from getting sunburned or getting skin cancer.
* Sunburn is more common during sunny summer days, but you can still get sunburned (and get skin cancer) on cloudy days and during other times of the year.
* Water, sand and snow reflect the sun’s rays, increasing the chance of a sunburn when outdoors at the lake, beach, fishing, or playing in the snow.
* Avoid tanning beds.

Here are some common sunscreen mistakes to avoid to help you prevent sunburn and protect you and your family from skin cancer.

Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.