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Protect Your Skin from the Sun

Tube of sunscreen

The Basics

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun.

  • Stay out of the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher
  • Cover up with long sleeves and a hat
  • Wear sunglasses

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. There are three different types of skin cancer. The two most common kinds of skin cancer are called nonmelanoma skin cancer. The most serious kind of skin cancer is called melanoma.

To learn more about skin cancer:

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, but the risk is greatest for people with:

  • White or light-colored skin with freckles
  • Blond or red hair
  • Blue or green eyes

Specific risk factors for melanoma include:

  • Unusual moles
  • Large number of moles

Take this quiz to better understand your risk for skin cancer.

If you are at risk for skin cancer, talk to a doctor about how to protect your skin. A doctor or nurse can show you how to do a skin self-exam to check your skin for signs of cancer.

The Benefits

By protecting your skin from the sun today, you can prevent skin cancer later in life. Most skin cancer appears after age 50, but damage from the sun starts at a young age.

Skin cancer is almost 100% curable if it’s found early and treated right away. That’s why it’s a good idea to check your skin for new growths or other signs of cancer.

Take Action!

Stay Out of the Sun Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The sun’s rays are the strongest in the middle of the day. Try to stay in the shade during these hours.

Use Sunscreen with SPF 15 or Higher.

Be sure to use enough sunscreen (a handful) and put it on again every few hours and after swimming or sweating. Put the sunscreen on 20 minutes before you go outside.

Cover up with Long Sleeves, a Hat, and Sunglasses.

Wear 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 Regularly.

Learn how to do a skin self-exam. Look for new growths or other changes. Report any changes to your doctor or nurse.

What do you want to do today?

  • Put on sunscreen before you leave the house.
  • Don’t forget your sunglasses!
  • Plan your activities so that you are inside or in the shade during the hottest part of the day.
  • Take this quiz to better understand your risk for skin cancer.
  • National Health Information Center

    P.O. Box 1133, Washington, DC 20013-1133