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UR Medicine / Dermatology / Specialty Centers / Mohs Surgery / Preventing Future Skin Cancers

Preventing Future Skin Cancers

Statistically speaking, you have a higher chance of developing additional skin cancers after having had one skin cancer. The most common association with skin cancer is exposure to sunlight. This is why skin cancers most often develop on body parts exposed to the sun, such as the face and arms.

Skin cancers also occur more frequently in fair skinned individuals and in people who live in the sun-belt areas. The damage your skin has already received from the sun cannot be reversed. However, there are precautions that can be taken to prevent further skin cancers including:

  • Minimize outdoor activities during peak sunlight hours (10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.).
  • When in the sun, wear a broad-brimmed hat and cover up with protective clothing as much as possible.
  • Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater on all exposed skin. Reapply every two hours; more frequently if swimming or perspiring.
  • Don't be fooled by cloudy or overcast days; the sun's damaging rays can still get through.
  • Wear sunglasses, preferably wrap-around styles that block both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
  • Beware of light colored reflective surfaces, such as sand, snow and water, which magnify potential harm to the skin.
  • Avoid tanning booths and sun lamps.
  • Protect children from the sun — kids who suffer from sunburns at a young age are at risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

Finally, if you have a family history of skin cancer, you should be especially careful about sun exposure. Also be sure to check your skin regularly for signs of skin cancer, such as any change in the size, shape or texture of an existing mole or blemish, the appearance of a new mole or a sore that doesn't heal. Report any unusual findings to your doctor.