Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program

Prevention Guidelines

Click the photo at the right to watch a video with someone you love; then follow the guidelines below to protect your skin this season.

Use the following guidelines to help prevent melanoma:

  • Limit UV Exposure - The best way to lower the risk of melanoma is to avoid too much exposure to the sun and other sources of UV light. Avoid being outdoors in sunlight too long, especially in the middle of the day when UV light is most intense.
  • Protect your skin with clothing- This is probably the best way to protect against too much UV if you are out in the sun. Protect your skin with clothing, including a shirt with long sleeves and a hat with a broad brim. Baseball hats can protect the head, but they do not protect the ears, neck, or lower part of the face.
  • Seek shade - Look for shade, especially in the middle of the day, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest. Keep in mind that sunlight (and UV rays) can come through clouds; can reflect off water, sand, concrete, and snow; and can reach below the water's surface.
  • Use sunscreen and lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher. Be sure to use enough (a palmful for your whole body) and apply every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating. Use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days. For it to work best, sunscreen should be applied before you go outside. Don't make the mistake of thinking that because you're using sunscreen, you can stay out in the sun longer. Staying out longer because you're using sunscreen just means you'll end up getting the same amount of UV light as you would otherwise. You won't reduce your risk that way.
  • Wear sunglasses - Wrap-around sunglasses with at least 99% UV absorption give the best protection to your eyes and the skin around your eyes.
  • Protect children- Be especially careful about sun protection for children. Children tend to spend more time outdoors and they burn more easily. Teach them to protect themselves from the sun as they get older.
  • Avoid other sources of UV light - Tanning beds and sun lamps are dangerous because they can damage your skin. There is growing evidence that they may increase your risk of developing melanoma. This is an area of active research
  • Check suspicious moles with your doctor and have them removed if needed. If you have many moles, a careful exam by your doctor (or a skin doctor), along with monthly skin self-exams may be recommended.