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Contact Information Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention
Division of Cancer
Prevention and Control
4770 Buford Hwy, NE
MS K-64
Atlanta, GA 30341-3717

Call: 1 (800) CDC-INFO
TTY: 1 (888) 232-6348
FAX: (770) 488-4760


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Protect Yourself from the Sun

Summer is a great time to have fun outdoors. It's also a time to take precautions to avoid sunburns, which can increase your risk of skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays appears to be the most important environmental factor involved with developing skin cancer. During the summer months, UV radiation tends to be greater.

To help prevent skin cancer while still having fun outdoors, regularly use sun protective practices such as

  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours (10 a.m.–4 p.m.), when UV rays are strongest and do the most damage.
  • Cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin. A long-sleeved shirt and long pants with a tight weave are best.
  • Get a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Grab shades that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
  • Rub on sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.

It's always wise to choose more than one way to cover up when you're in the sun. Use sunscreen and put on a shirt... Seek shade and grab your sunglasses... Wear a hat, but rub on sunscreen too. Combining these sun protective actions helps protect your skin from the sun's damaging UV rays.

UV rays reach you on cloudy and hazy days, as well as bright and sunny days. UV rays will also reflect off any surface like water, cement, sand, and snow. Additionally, UV rays from artificial sources of light, like tanning beds, cause skin cancer and should be avoided.

Most forms of skin cancer can be cured. However, the best way to avoid skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun. For more information, please visit Basic Information about Skin Cancer and Skin Cancer Questions and Answers.

Protecting Children from the Sun

Just a few serious sunburns can increase your child's risk of skin cancer later in life. Kids don't have to be at the pool, beach, or on vacation to get too much sun. Their skin needs protection from the sun's harmful UV rays whenever they're outdoors. Parents, help your children play it safe in the sun and protect your own skin as well. You're an important role model. For more information on how to protect children, visit Play It Safe in the Sun: A Guide for Parents.

Children need protection from the sun when they're at school, too. Two publications are available to help schools minimize UV exposure during childhood:

For more information on how schools can help prevent skin cancer, visit Guidelines for School Programs to Prevent Skin Cancer.

Remember, when in the sun, seek shade, cover up, get a hat, wear sunglasses, and use sunscreen!

PDF Icon Please note: Some of these publications are available for download only as *.pdf files. These files require Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to be viewed. Please review the information on downloading and using Acrobat Reader software.

Page last reviewed: July 14, 2008
Page last updated: July 14, 2008
Content source: Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
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