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Summer is the time for fun activities in the great outdoors. But summer skin problems can quickly derail your summer fun. Sunburn is primary among those summer skin concerns, largely because it’s so easy to happen.

Not only is sunburn painful, it also increases your chance to develop skin cancer. Here are some tips to help avoid sunburn and decrease the likelihood of getting skin cancer:

■ Stay out of the sun during the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The American Academy of Dermatology says that you should seek shade if your shadow is shorter than you are.

■ Wear protective clothing like a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

■ Apply sunscreen, using a product that is water-resistant with an SPF of at least 30. Be sure to use enough to cover your body whenever you’re going outside, even on cloudy days.

■ Reapply every two hours when you’re spending time outdoors, especially when you’re swimming or sweating.

■ Use extra caution near water and sand because they reflect the damaging UV rays of the sun. Snow also reflects the rays, but we’re talking about summer skin dangers.

■ Avoid tanning beds because the UV light from them can cause skin cancer and premature aging.

■ Perform regular self-exams to detect skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable. Check out your whole body in the mirror, looking at forearms, underarms, backs of your legs and even the back of your neck and scalp for any changes in spots on your body, or new spots.

This information applies to any sun exposure. Even a tan can be dangerous — a tan is a sign that your skin has been damaged. As the damage builds, the aging of your skin speeds up and your risk of skin cancer increases.

Identifying possible skin cancer

Is it skin cancer or just a mole? There are some signs that should send you to the dermatologist to get checked out. The American Cancer Society suggests following the ABCDE rule.

Asymmetry: Half of a mole or birthmark is different from the other side.

Border: The edges are ragged, diffuse or irregular.

Color: Mottled color, including shades of brown and black and sometimes patches of pink or red is present.

Diameter: Size should be no larger than a pencil eraser, although some melanomas are smaller.

Evolving: The size, shape or color of the spot changes over time.

If a spot or mole has any of these features, be sure to talk to your doctor about it. It’s also important to talk to your doctor about any new growths on the skin that look different.

Other signs include a sore that doesn’t heal, redness and swelling beyond the border of a mole, a new itchiness or pain or change in the surface of the mole.

When detected early, skin cancer is very treatable. Your doctor can be a partner in helping you maintain the health of your skin.

Meghan Russell, NP, is a family medicine nurse practitioner at Aurora Bay Area Health Center, 4061 Old Peshtigo Road, in Marinette. Her office can be reached at 715-732-8000.