The American Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Ophthalmology join forces each year in July to support UV Safety Month. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are the main cause of skin cancer and can also cause wrinkles and blotchy skin.
The good news? Skin cancer can be prevented! Here are some simple steps to help prevent skin cancer:
- Stay in the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The sun’s rays are the strongest from mid-morning to late afternoon. Try to stay out of the sun during these hours.
- Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
Use sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection. To get the most protection:
- Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days. UV rays can still harm your skin through the clouds.
- Plan ahead – put sunscreen on 30 minutes before you go outside.
- Be sure to use enough sunscreen (a handful). Don’t forget to apply it to your lips, ears, hands, feet and back of the neck.
- If you wear very light clothing, put sunscreen on under your clothes.
- Put on more sunscreen every few hours and after you swim or sweat.
- Cover up with long sleeves, a hat and sunglasses.
Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants or a long skirt. A hat with a wide brim can help protect your face and neck. The skin around your eyes is very sensitive. Wear wrap-around sunglasses to help protect your eyes and skin from sun damage.
- Check your skin once every month.
Be sure to check your whole body. Pick a day and mark it on your calendar so you don’t forget.
- Use mirrors.
The best place to do a skin self-exam is in a well-lit room in front of a mirror. The best time is right after a shower or bath. Examine your skin from head to toe. Use a hand mirror to check hard-to-see areas like your back. Follow these step-by-step instructions on how to do a skin self-exam.
- Look for changes.
- Learn where your birthmarks, spots and moles are and what they usually look and feel like. Use this chart to keep track of your self-exams.
- Check the growths on your skin for changes in size, shape, color or feel.
- Check for anything new – a sore that doesn’t heal, a mole that bleeds or any new growths. Get more tips on how to spot an unusual mole.
- If you find any changes, see a doctor.
See a doctor or nurse right away if you find any changes that worry you. Most changes are harmless, but only a doctor or nurse can tell you for sure. Use this interactive tool to estimate your risk of developing skin cancer.