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Florida is known the world over for its outdoor activities and sunny weather. And millions of sun seekers flock to our state each year to enjoy the benefits of the rays-from vitamin D to its mood-enhancing effects. The downside, however, are sunburns, which are known to increase your chances of developing skin cancer. In fact, five or more sunburns will double your lifetime risk of developing the disease.

Physicians at UCF Pegasus Health advise everyone to follow the simple guidelines below to stay safe in the sun.

* Avoid direct exposure when the sun’s rays are the strongest, which is generally between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

* Protect yourself with densely woven clothing, a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.

* Use sunscreen that’s at least SPF 15 or higher. To be effective, it should be applied at least 30 minutes prior to going outdoors, and reapplied every 2 hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.

* Keep infants out of direct sunlight whenever possible, especially during the first 6 months.

* Don’t fall victim to claims that tanning beds are safer. A suntan is an outward sign that skin damage has occurred, regardless of where it came from.

* Examine your skin from head-to-toe at least once a month and report any unusual changes to your doctor immediately.

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