May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

EFFINGHAM— According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin in as little as 15 minutes.

With Memorial Day marking the “unofficial” start of summer and May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month, HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital and HSHS Medical Group are encouraging sun safety awareness and reminding everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), approximately 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. The good news is that skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers.

Following guidance from the AAD and the CDC, HSHS St. Anthony’s and HSHS Medical Group offer the following reminders to help keep you and your family safe when having fun in the sun:

  • Wear sunscreen: Applying sunscreen isn’t just for those times that you take your kids to the pool or the beach. It is important year-round and anytime you will be outside for an activity for any length of time with limited or no shade, such as doing yard work, while watching a ballgame or taking an afternoon walk. Even if it isn’t a bright sunny day, sunscreen is still important – the sun is always emitting ultraviolet (UV) rays, and even on cloudy days up to 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin. Make sure your sunscreen has an SPF of 30 or higher and has both ultraviolet-A (UVA) and ultraviolet-B (UVB) broad spectrum protection. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off.
  • Stay in the shade: This is important during certain hours of the day, especially during late morning through mid-afternoon. The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. According to the AAD, a good indicator of when you should stay in the shade is to look at your shadow. Any time your shadow appears shorter than you, you should seek shade.
  • Cover up: Wide-brimmed hats that shade your face, head, ears and neck is helpful for protecting those sensitive areas. A lightweight shirt or cover-up to wear over a swimsuit can also protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Swimsuit manufacturers are also supporting sun safety by creating more options for swimwear that covers more skin such as swim shirts.

Dean Page, MD, FACS, an HSHS Medical Group plastic surgeon in Effingham, offered these additional tips. “Use sun protection products that contain zinc oxide, titanium oxide or both,” recommends Dr. Page. “And if you do have a fresh sunburn, aloe lotion works best to ease the burn as gels tend to have alcohol in them.”

For more sun safety tips, visit the American Academy of Dermatology’s Sun Protection Resource Center.

About Hospital Sisters Health System

Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high-quality Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our physician practices and 15 local hospitals in two states – Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay).  HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit