Tips to Avoid Sun Damage

What you can do to keep your skin safe and prevent skin cancer

A smiling woman protects her skin by visiting the beach in the early evening.

Skin cancer is more common than many people may think. An estimated one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

Young people are not immune. Melanoma is one of the most common cancers to strike people younger than age 30.

Recommendations for protecting your skin

It’s important to do all you can to keep your skin safe. And there are a number tactics you can incorporate into your fun in the sun to keep your skin protected and prevent the harmful effects of sun exposure.

  • In addition to using an effective sunscreen, avoid sun during peak hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) when the sun is most intense. Schedule that tennis match early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
  • Watch out for reflected light from water, sand or snow, which intensify the sun’s rays.
  • Wear a broad-rim hat to keep sunlight off of your head and neck and sunglasses with UV protection to protect your eyes and surrounding skin.
  • Avoid “base tans” and sunburns — getting five or more during your teens can raise melanoma rate by 80 percent. Acute sunburns are often linked to melanoma. And while a bad sunburn will heal in a few days, the real damage may be felt decades later.

Learn more about sun safety

For more skin safety tips, watch this interview with Hugh Greenway, MD, Scripps Clinic dermatologist and skin cancer expert.