Prevent skin cancer

Follow these tips to protect your skin from the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays and reduce your risk of skin cancer:

  • Seek shade when appropriate, remembering 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.

  • Wear protective clothing, such as a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible.

  • Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Broad-spectrum sunscreen provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

    • Use sunscreen whenever you are going to be outside, even on cloudy days.
    • Apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Most adults need about 1 ounce — or enough to fill a shot glass — to fully cover their body.
    • Don’t forget to apply to the tops of your feet, your neck, your ears and the top of your head.

  • When outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.

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

  • Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from tanning beds can cause skin cancer and premature skin aging.

  • Consider using a self-tanning product if you want to look tan, but continue to use sunscreen with it.

  • Perform regular skin self-exams to detect skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable, and see a board-certified dermatologist if you notice new or suspicious spots on your skin, or anything changing, itching or bleeding.

A tan is a sign that your skin has been injured. Whether you’re exposed to the sun’s 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.


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.

How to apply self-tanner

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

Skin cancer prevention

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