The BasicsThe best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun.
- Stay in the shade as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
- Cover up with long sleeves, a hat, and sunglasses.
Why do I need to protect my skin from the sun?Protect your skin from the sun today to help prevent skin cancer later in life. Most skin cancer appears after age 50, but damage from the sun can start during childhood.
Staying out of the sun and using sunscreen can also help prevent:
- Blotchy or spotty skin
- Other damage caused by the sun
What is skin cancer?Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States. There are 3 different kinds of skin cancer.
The 2 most common kinds of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. They are both also called non-melanoma skin cancer. The most dangerous kind of skin cancer is called melanoma.
Skin cancer is almost 100% curable when it’s found early and treated right away. That’s why it’s a good idea to check your skin every month for new growths and other signs of cancer. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you find a change.
What causes skin cancer?Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. UV radiation can also come from tanning booths or sunlamps.
Anyone can get skin cancer. The risk is highest for people with:
- White or light-colored skin with freckles
- Blond or red hair
- Blue or green eyes
- Unusual moles
- A large number of moles
Take simple steps to prevent skin cancer.
Stay in the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.mThe sun’s rays are the strongest from mid-morning to late afternoon. Try to stay out of the sun during these hours.
Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higherUse sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection. To get the most protection:
- Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days. UV rays can still harm your skin through the clouds.
- Plan ahead – put sunscreen on 30 minutes before you go outside.
- Be sure to use enough sunscreen (a handful).
- If you wear very light clothing, put sunscreen on under your clothes.
- Put on more sunscreen every few hours and after you swim or sweat.
Cover up with long sleeves, a hat, and sunglassesWear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants or a long skirt. A hat with a wide brim can protect your face and neck.
The skin around your eyes is very sensitive. Wear wrap-around sunglasses to protect your eyes and your skin from sun damage.
Check your skin once every month
The best place to do a skin self-exam is in a well-lit room in front of a mirror. The best time is right after a shower or bath.
Examine your skin from head to toe. Use a hand mirror to check hard-to-see areas like your back.