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Jul 14

Center for Disease Control

Skin Cancer

Posted by Center for Disease Control

Skin Cancer

When you're having fun outdoors, it's easy to forget how important it is to protect yourself from the sun. Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays in as little as 15 minutes. It can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure. Even if it's cool and cloudy, you still need protection—UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage. People with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop skin cancer. These include family history, large number or unusual moles, fair skin, and exposure to sun or artificial ultraviolet light such as that found in tanning salons.


Key Facts

  • About 65%-90% of 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.
  • Tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your skin after being outside, whether sunburn or suntan, 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 men and women aged 65 and older and people with atypical moles or more than 50 moles are at greater risk for developing melanoma.

Prevention Tips

  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin. Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
  • 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.