Health & Safety

June 8, 2012

Protect your skin and prevent sun damage

by Kristin Shives
TRICARE Management Activity

Summer months bring outdoor fun in the sun, but they can also bring unwanted skin issues such as sunburn, freckles and skin cancer. The solution for these problems is to apply sunscreen. Sunscreen protects skin and fights the development of skin cancer.

It’s important that beneficiaries take precautions out in the sun year-round. Both sunburn and indoor tanning increase the risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The sun gives off ultraviolet rays, which can damage skin in as little as 15 minutes. UV rays are invisible rays released as energy by the sun, whether the day is bright and sunny or cloudy and hazy. The CDC says the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during daylight savings time are the most harmful for UV exposure in the United States.

The CDC recommends the following steps to protect skin from sun damage:

  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB protection
  • Wear clothing that covers exposed skin
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears and neck
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block up to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays
  • Seek shade during midday hours.

Indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases melanoma risk by 75 percent, the CDC says. Using a tanning bed, booth or sunlamp to get tan is just as harmful as lying out in the sun. Indoor tanning has been linked with skin cancers including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and cancers of the eye.

Beneficiaries can get skin cancer screenings with TRICARE Prime, Standard and Extra. TRICARE covers skin cancer exams for individuals with a family or personal history of skin cancer, an increase in occupational or recreational exposure to sunlight or clinical evidence of lesions.

For more information on how to reduce the risk of skin cancer, go to www.cdc.gov/features/skincancer. Beneficiaries can find out more on their benefit and preventive services at www.tricare.mil/preventiveservices.




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