Sunburns often occur when we’re not paying attention. And we don’t notice them until the sun goes down and we’re staring at a giant lobster in the bathroom mirror. Though sunburns are remarkably common during the summer, they can also be dangerous, as they're a huge risk factor for skin cancer.

July is UV Safety Month, and it’s time to be aware of the sun’s good — and bad — qualities. Remembering to wear sunscreen is only part of the equation that will help lower your risk of developing a form of skin cancer, such as melanoma.

According to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), “[t]he need to protect your skin from the sun has become very clear over the years, supported by several studies linking overexposure to the sun with skin cancer.” But it’s not only the sun that can be harmful — indoor tanning “sunlamps” are responsible for “many other complications besides skin cancer — such as eye problems, a weakened immune system, age spots, wrinkles, and leathery skin.”

When out and about on a steaming hot day, be sure to avoid getting severely sunburnt. Sunburns can significantly increase your chance of skin cancer — particularly among children or people with pale or sensitive skin. In order to prevent sunburn, wear sunscreen, proper clothes, hats, and sunglasses, and always aim for the shade during the sun’s peak hours between 10am and 4pm. The sun’s damaging effects can also be compounded by reflective surfaces like sand, water, snow, and even windows — so be careful to avoid these things. The Food and Drug Administration also suggests using broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) value of 15 or more.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, but it’s also the most successfully treated if it’s found early. Over time, doctors have developed a list called the ABCDE’s in order to help people identify any abnormal signs of melanoma. Be aware that a mole or part of your skin may change color or shape, and this might be a sign of cancer. To help you determine whether a mole is a warning sign, keep the ABCDE’s in mind:

A- Asymmetry: One side looks different than the other.
B- Border changes: An irregular and uneven border.
C- Color changes: Having a variety of different colors.
D- Diameter: It's bigger than a pencil eraser.
E- Evolving: Any change in size, shape, color, or elevation.

It’s hard to say what has made skin cancer prevalence increase in recent years. People aren’t necessarily getting more sun; in fact, vitamin D deficiencies have increased significantly as well, meaning people actually aren’t getting enough sunlight. But you don’t have to live with one or the other. Spending 10 to 15 minutes a day in the sun is enough to balance your Vitamin D levels, and not enough to get you severely sunburnt. Keep in mind that a moderate amount of time spent in the sun can be good for you, but don’t let your sun exposure get out of hand, and keep the sunscreen in hand.