Shawn Akavan, MD, MBA, CPE is the Medical Director of Amerigroup Washington.

What can I do to reduce my risk of skin cancer?

The warmth of the sunshine can feel good on our skin, but it can also be dangerous. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are the main cause of most skin cancers.

Protection from UV radiation is important all year round, not just during the summer or at the beach. UV rays from the sun don’t just reach you on bright and sunny days. They come through even when the sky is cloudy or hazy, too. UV rays also reflect off surfaces like water, cement, sand and snow. And indoor tanning—using a tanning bed, booth, or sunlamp to get tan—exposes users to UV radiation.

Some times of day are worse than others. Here in the continental U.S., the most hazardous times for UV exposure are from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Daylight Saving time/9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. standard time. UV rays from sunlight are the strongest during late spring and early summer.

How can you protect yourself and your family from UV exposure?

Use a broad spectrum sunscreen that will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Your sunscreen should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.

Stay in the shade, especially during the middle of the day.

Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs.

Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears and neck.

Wear wraparound sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.

Don’t use tanning beds or other indoor tanning.

Shawn Akavan, MD, MBA, CPE
Medical Director
Amerigroup Washington

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