Take these 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 the back of your neck.
- If you wear very light clothing, put sunscreen on under your clothes.
- Put on more sunscreen every 2 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 your skin from sun damage.
Avoid indoor tanning.
Tanning beds, tanning booths, and sunlamps are not any safer than tanning in the sun. There’s no safe way to get a tan.
Just like tanning in the sun, indoor tanning can cause skin cancer, wrinkles, age spots, and other damage to your skin and eyes.
Learn more about the risks of indoor tanning.
Check your skin regularly.
Many doctors recommend that you check your whole body once a month. Pick a day and mark it on your calendar so you don’t forget.
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. You may want to ask a friend or relative to check your scalp (under your hair).
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 [PDF - 772 KB].
- 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 that worry you, 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.