CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Some of us may be dodging a stray shower or two this Memorial Day weekend, but for most of us it's a time to spend with friends and family at the barbecue or in the pool. Just make sure that while you're celebrating, you're protecting your skin.
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States and kills 12,000 Americans each year. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to always use sunscreen.
Dr. Ronea Harris-Stith of Presbyterian Dermatology South says you should look for a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 and use it year round, not just in the summer months. This will provide enough protection if you're outside during everyday activities. If you'll be poolside or manning the barbecue, look for more protection. "The longer you're out the higher the SPF you're going to need," says Harris-Stith. The SPF 100 may be overkill though. "You won't get much more protection past SPF 30."
The second thing you should look for when purchasing a sunscreen are the words "broad spectrum", which will protect from both UVA and UVB rays. Harris-Stith says UVA rays are responsible for premature aging and wrinkles, while UVB rays can cause sunburns and ultimately lead to skin cancer.
You'll also need to reapply every two hours, and reapply again if you're sweating or you towel off after swimming.
It's also a good idea to avoid the sun completely when the sun's rays are strongest, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. A good rule of thumb is the shadow rule. If your shadow is shorter than you, find a shady spot.