Prevent skin cancer

The American Academy of Dermatology’s PSA, “Arms,” warns young girls that tanning now – indoors or out – can have scary consequences in the future.

Follow these tips to protect your skin from the damaging effects of sun exposure and reduce your risk of skin cancer:

  • Apply sunscreen. When you are going to be outside, even on cloudy days, apply sunscreen to all skin that will not be covered by clothing. Reapply approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that protects the skin against both UVA and UVB rays and that has an SPF of at least 30. Learn how to apply sunscreen.

  • Use one ounce of sunscreen, an amount that is about equal to the size of your palm. Thoroughly rub the product into the skin. Don’t forget the top of your feet, your neck, ears, and the top of your head.

  • Seek shade. Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.

  • Protect your skin with clothing. When going outside wear a long‐sleeved shirt, pants, a wide‐brimmed hat and sunglasses.

  • Use extra caution near water, sand or snow as they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.

  • Get vitamin D safely. Eat a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D, or take vitamin D supplements. Do not seek the sun.

A tan is a sign that your skin has been injured. Whether you’re exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays or visit an indoor tanning salon, every time you tan, your skin is damaged. As this damage builds, you speed up the aging of your skin and increase your risk for all types of skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

  • If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it. Don’t use tanning beds. Just like the sun, UV light from tanning beds can cause wrinkling and age spots and can lead to skin cancer.

  • Check your skin for signs of skin cancer. Your birthday is a great time to check your birthday suit. Checking your skin and knowing your moles are key to detecting skin cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.

If you spot anything changing, growing or bleeding, see your dermatologist.


Additional related resources

View infographics and watch videos for additional tips on how to protect your skin and reduce your risk of skin cancer.

How to select a sunscreen

Do you know that some sunscreens can prevent sunburn, reduce your risk of getting skin cancer, and help prevent early signs of skin aging? Follow these tips on how to select a sunscreen.

How to apply sunscreen

Follow these tips from dermatologists when applying sunscreen.

Skin cancer prevention

Follow these tips to protect your skin and reduce your risk of skin cancer.

How to apply self-tanner

These basic tips will help you apply a self-tanner so you get even coverage and longer-lasting results.