What Are the Risk Factors for Skin Cancer?

Photo of a mother and child on the beach. Both are wearing sunglasses, hats, and long-sleeved shirts.

People burn or tan depending on their skin type, the time of year, and how long they are exposed to UV rays.

Anyone can get skin cancer, but people with certain characteristics are at greater risk—

  • A lighter natural skin color.
  • Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun.
  • Blue or green eyes.
  • Blond or red hair.
  • Certain types and a large number of moles.
  • A family history of skin cancer.
  • A personal history of skin cancer.
  • Older age.

Exposure to UV Rays

Regardless of whether you have any of the risk factors listed above, reducing your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can help keep your skin healthy and lower your chances of getting skin cancer in the future. Most people get at least some UV exposure from the sun when they spend time outdoors. Making sun protection an everyday habit will help you to enjoy the outdoors safely, avoid getting a sunburn, and lower your skin cancer risk.

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