CHARLESTON, WV (WOKW) – The weather is starting to get warm and people want to get outside, but it’s important to know how to protect yourself from skin cancer this summer.

More than five million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. According to a recent study by Tempus, six in 10 Americans don’t know how often they should be screened for skin cancer.

“55% of the people we surveyed said they were very aware of what preventative screening to get and how often they should receive them but when we lined it up with what people thought was correct, we found that only 42% of Americans answered correctly,” Matt Zajechowski, Content Strategist said.

The correct answer is people should be screened annually. The most common cause of skin cancer is excessive ultra-violet exposure from sunlight and tanning beds. There are ways you can protect yourself daily by using diligent sun protection.

“We love sun-protective clothing more than sunscreen. So, that’s going to be a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves, called UPF clothing that’s lightweight and sun protective clothing is going to give you the best protection,” Erin Bateman, physician assistant with Marshall Dermatology said.  

Experts recommend doing a self-examine in the mirror to see if anything is new or changing with your skin. Also, avoid peak sun hours from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. There’s also sunscreen for areas that aren’t covered by clothing but starting these preventative practices now doesn’t guarantee total protection.

“Sunburns that you even get as a kid or a teenager, if you used the tanning bed when you were younger, can increase your risk of getting skin cancer as you get older,” Bateman said.

In the study, only 2% of the people surveyed knew all the correct guidelines for how you’re supposed to protect yourself.

Dermatologists recommended you use a 30+ or above sunscreen that needs to be reapplied every one to two hours and wearing an oil-free facial sunscreen daily when outside.