It’s a question you’ve likely been asked by your doctor when you’ve gone in for a visit or had an e-visit. But just how important is this question?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it’s very important since skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. Sun exposure as well as the use of tanning beds can significantly increase one’s risk of skin cancer.

Enter sunscreen. An SPF of 30 or higher blocks 97% or more of ultraviolet rays. And be sure to choose one that is broad-spectrum, as it protects against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. What are the differences between the two?

UVA rays are aging rays and damage the skin in such a way that causes your skin to wrinkle and produce age spots. These rays can pass through glass, such as windows. Find out about other ways you may be prematurely aging your skin.

UVB rays are burning rays. These rays cause sunburn and cannot pass through windows and other glass.

Any time you are in the sun, you should be arming yourself with sunscreen and reapplying regularly if you are swimming/getting wet or sweating. In addition to slathering on the sunscreen, you should avoid sun exposure during peak times (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and wear protective clothing, such as a hat with a brim. If you notice changes to your skin, contact your health care professional immediately. Skin cancer is very treatable if it’s caught early, but it can also be very deadly if it is allowed to invade and spread to other parts of the body.

Don’t let COVID-19 keep you from seeking the health care you need. Advocate Aurora Health has made a Safe Care Promise to take additional steps to keep you safe.

April Jensen is a nurse practitioner at the new Aurora Health Center in Menominee. Her office can be reached at 906-863-4100.