Skin Cancer: Prevention
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is the most important preventable risk factor for
skin cancer. UV rays come from the sun and from sunlamps and tanning beds. There are
two types of UV rays that can reach and damage your skin: UVA and UVB.
Here’s how you can help reduce your risk of skin cancer:
Minimize your exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when UV
rays are strongest.
Apply a generous amount of sunscreen before you go outside. Use a water-resistant,
broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Broad-spectrum
means the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Apply it to all areas
of your body that will be exposed to the sun.
Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, even on cloudy days. Reapply after swimming
Wear clothing that covers your body and shades your face. Wear a long-sleeved
shirt, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat. Hats should provide shade for the face,
ears, and back of the neck.
Wear sunglasses with a UV coating (the label should say 100% UVA/UVB protection).
This will reduce the amount of UV rays that reach the eye, and protect your eyelids
and the eye itself.
Don’t use sunlamps or tanning beds.
Protecting children from the sun
Skin damage from UV rays early in life can lead to skin cancer later in life. Keep
children from too much sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when UV rays
are strongest. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen often to children age 6 months
Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Dress your baby in hats
and lightweight clothing that covers most of the skin. The American Academy of Pediatrics
(AAP) approves using sunscreen on babies younger than 6 months if clothing and shade
don’t provide enough cover. Apply a small amount of sunscreen. Use it only on your
baby’s exposed areas such as the face and back of the hands.
Take care around sand and snow
Sand and water reflect UV rays, even under a beach umbrella. If you’re on the beach,
cover up and use sunscreen. Snow is also good at reflecting UV rays. Cover up and
wear sunscreen while outside in snowy areas.