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Atrium Health Navicent Offers Tips to Protect Your Skin from the Summer Sun

It’s time for summer fun in the sun, relaxing by the pool and long days spent outside. But too much sun can be harmful to your body. In recognition of UV Safety Awareness Month, doctors at Atrium Health Navicent caution the community to be aware of the risks associated with overexposure to the sun’s rays.

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, an invisible type of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps, can lead to skin cancer, as UV rays are especially damaging to skin cells.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States with 4.3 million adults treated for skin cancer annually. One in 5 people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The leading risk for skin cancer is exposure to UV rays.

Atrium Health Navicent physicians recommend individuals take the following preventative steps to protect their skin from too much UV exposure and to lower skin cancer risk:

• Stay in the shade as much as possible, under an umbrella, tree or other shelter.

• Sunlight is strongest midday to early afternoon, at higher altitudes and when reflected off water, ice or snow.

• Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when you’re outside, even if you’re in the shade. Sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher should be applied in a thick layer on all exposed skin. The higher the SPF, the more protection the sunscreen offers. Be sure to reapply at least every two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off. The use of sunscreen is not recommended for babies under 6 months old.

• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that infants be dressed in protective clothing and kept in the shade. Also protect children and senior citizens with hats and sunglasses.

• Wear a hat that has a brim that shades your face, ears and the back of your neck. If you wear a baseball cap, protect your ears and the back of your neck with clothing, sunscreen or by staying in the shade.

• Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the skin around your eyes from sun exposure. Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Wrap-around styles block UV rays from coming in from the side.

• Never look directly at the sun. This can damage the eye's retina and cause a serious injury known as solar retinopathy.

• Avoid tanning beds. Tanning beds pose the same risks to your eyes and body as outdoor UV light.

“The leading risk of skin cancer is sun exposure, especially sun exposure when you were younger. Take steps to protect yourself and your family from UV light by applying sunscreen, staying in the shade when possible and wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes,” said Dr. Paul Dale, chief of surgical oncology for Atrium Health Navicent and medical director for the Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center.

Skin cancer can affect everyone, regardless of skin color. People with lighter skin pigmentation are much more likely to have their skin damaged by UV rays, but darker-skinned people also can be affected. Darker skin has more melanin than lighter skin. Melanin helps block damaging UV rays up to a point, which is why lighter-skinned people get sunburns more easily than darker-skinned people.

If you’re concerned about a mole or another spot on your skin, see your primary care doctor. Moles that itch or change shape, size or color should be examined as soon as possible. If you have concerns about too much exposure to UV light, doctors at Atrium Health Navicent can help.

Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center offers a range of services that encompasses all aspects of cancer care, from screening and diagnosis, through treatment and into survivorship. The Cancer Center is accredited by the Commission on Cancer with Commendation – Gold Level.

For more information about Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center, call 478-633-3000. To find a doctor, visit and click “Find A Doctor.”

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of health care in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent is part of Advocate Health, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the third-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, created from the combination of Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit