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Skin Cancer

Father applying sunscreen to daughter

When you’re having fun outdoors, don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun. Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays in as little as 15 minutes. Even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need protection—UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage. You are more likely to get skin cancer if you have a family history of skin cancer, a large number of moles or unusual moles, fair skin, or tan indoors or outdoors.


Key Facts

  • Most melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.
  • UV rays can reach you on cloudy days and can reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow.
  • Any change in the color of your skin after being outside, whether it is a sunburn or a tan, indicates damage from UV rays.
  • Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.
  • Fair-skinned adults aged 65 and older and people with a large number of moles or unusual moles are more likely to get melanoma.


Prevention Tips

  • Seek shade, especially from late morning through midafternoon.
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs and a hat with a wide brim that shades your face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Put on sunscreen with broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection and sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher.
  • Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. The UV rays from them are as dangerous as the UV rays from the sun.

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