Almost 4,000 North Carolinians Will Get Skin Cancer This Year. Here’s How to Not Be One of Them.

Extreme Heat

Here are some important tips for staying safe in the extreme heat. (Shutterstock)

By Leah Sherrell

August 15, 2023

Sun damage gets us all, and can have negative impacts on your health now and in the future. Read these 5 methods on beating the heat and UV rays.

The sun is shining in North Carolina, and it’s hot. The average temperature in the summer ranges from the mid-80s to mid-90s as the intensity of the sun kicks up. While this is great for a day at the lake or the local swimming hole, it’s also important to protect your skin from long term damage.

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Sun damage (caused by a lifetime of sun exposure and sun burns) can increase wrinkles as you age, but more importantly it puts you at a higher risk of skin cancer. This is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. and the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 3,950 new cases in North Carolina this year.

The Skin Cancer Foundation warns that while skin cancer is less common in non-white racial groups, when it does occur it is usually detected at a later stage and the 5-year survival rate drops. For example, white patients with skin cancer have a 92% five-year survival rate, whereas Black patients have a five-year survival rate of 67%.


Ok, this one is a bit obvious. Most of us have been told to lather up with Coppertone or Banana Boat since we were in swim diapers. However, it can be a lot more involved than just spraying it on before heading out to the beach for the day.

The CDC advises using sunscreen every time you go outside and reapplying every two hours or after swimming/sweating. Yale Medicine puts an emphasis on sunscreens that have an SPF of 30 or higher and says to continue applying on cloudy days when UV rays aren’t as obvious but still cause damage.

Using a broad spectrum sunscreen also protects you from both types of UV rays, UVA which is responsible for skin aging, and UVB which causes you to burn.


The American Academy of Dermatology is all about accessories in addition to your sunscreen. The best pairings are:

  • Hats that shade your face, neck and ears
  • UV protection labeled sunglasses with large frames
  • Lightweight, tight knit fabric to cover your arms and legs. You can even buy UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) labeled clothing.
  • Don’t forget your feet! Wear shoes that cover the tops of your feet or apply sunscreen to the exposed skin.

Be Aware of Reflective Surfaces

The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology is thorough, and they’re reminding us that “sand, water, and concrete can reflect more than half the sun’s rays” so make sure you’re reapplying and taking extra precautions when you’re around areas like that.

Avoid Peak Sun Hours

It’s also important to be aware that the sun is strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (in the continental U.S.). If you’re outside, remember to take breaks in the shade, cover up, and be aware of how your skin is reacting.


  • Leah Sherrell

    Leah Sherrell is a multimedia reporter for Cardinal & Pine. A graduate of UNC-Wilmington, she's a resident of Kernersville with a background in video production and communication. Leah uses many forms of media to explore the multifaceted lifestyles and cultures present in North Carolina.

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