Excessive exposure to the sun and its
ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause skin cancer. You can
reduce your risk for skin cancer by:
- Protecting your skin, and that of your family
members, from UV radiation.
- Performing frequent
skin self-examinations .
- Finding out whether you have an increased
melanoma and other skin cancers.
How do I protect my skin from UV radiation and skin cancer?
You can take steps to protect your skin from UV radiation. While sunscreen plays a vital role
in protecting your skin from UV radiation, it can't prevent skin damage if you
are exposed to the sun's rays for long periods of time. Experts recommend that
you use multiple methods to fully protect your skin.
Preventing skin cancer isn't always possible. But being alert for new spots or skin growths and having your doctor check your skin regularly may help find skin cancer early when it can be more easily treated.
Protect your skin
- Stay out of the sun during
the peak hours of UV radiation, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Wide-brimmed hats that protect the face
- Tightly-woven clothing made of thick material, such as
unbleached cotton, polyester, wool, or silk
- Dark clothing with dyes
added that help absorb UV radiation
- Loose-fitting long-sleeved
clothing that covers as much of the skin as possible
- Clothing that
sun protection factor (SPF) in the fabric that does
not wash out
- Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher,
summer and winter, on both cloudy and clear days.
- Apply sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB
radiation to all exposed skin, including lips, ears, back of the hands, and
neck. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going in the sun, and reapply it every
2 hours and after swimming, exercising, or sweating.
wraparound sunglasses that block at least 99% of UVA and UVB
- Be careful when you are on sand, snow, or water, because
these surfaces can reflect 85% of the sun's rays.
- Avoid artificial
sources of UVA radiation, including sunlamps and tanning booths. Like the sun,
they can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.
A child's skin is more sensitive to the sun than an
adult's skin and is more easily burned. Babies younger than 6 months should
always be completely shielded from the sun. Children 6 months and older should
have their skin protected from too much sun exposure.
Know the ABCDEs of early detection
can be cured if found and treated early. If it is not discovered or treated
until too late, it can spread throughout the body and may be fatal. Skin cancer
often appears on the trunk of men and on the legs of women. Learn your ABCDEs ,
the changes in a mole or skin growth that are warning signs of melanoma:
- Asymmetry : One half doesn't match the
- Border irregularity : The edges are ragged, notched, or
- Color : The pigmentation is not uniform. Shades of tan,
brown, and black are present. Dashes of red, white, and blue add to the mottled
appearance. Color may spread from the edge of a mole into the surrounding
- Diameter : The size of the mole is greater than
6 mm (0.2 in.), or about the
size of a pencil eraser.
- Evolution : There is a change in the size,
shape, symptoms (such as itching or tenderness), surface (especially bleeding),
or color of a mole.
Get to know your skin
Skin cancer, including
melanoma, is curable if spotted early. A careful skin exam may identify
suspicious growths that may be cancer or growths that may develop into skin
- Examine your skin once every month. Get
to know your moles and birthmarks. And look for any abnormal skin growth and
any change in the color, shape, size, or appearance of a skin
- Check for any area of skin that does not heal after an
- Have your
doctor check your skin during any other health exams. Most experts
recommend having your skin examined regularly.
- Bring any
suspicious skin growths or changes in a mole to the attention of your doctor.
Return to Skin Cancer: Protecting Your Skin