Sun Protection Strategies

Use the pneumonic PROTECT to remember the important components of our sun protection strategies for the early detection and/or prevention of skin cancer. 

P rotect yourself from the sun

  • Generously apply a broad spectrum sunscreen covering UVA and UVB rays at lease 15-30 minutes prior to sun exposure  
  • Cover all sun exposed areas including your lips
  • Re-apply sunscreen every few hours, and after swimming, sweating, or exercising
  • Wear sun protective clothing (long sleeved shirts, pants, broad brimmed hats, sunglasses) when planning on being outdoors for extended periods of time or have any of the risk factors below.

R isk Factor Awareness

       Risk factors for the development of skin cancer include:

  • Increased age
  • Fair skin-type that burns/freckles easily and tans poorly
  • History of sunburns
  • History of excessive sun exposure
  • Past history of skin cancer or pre-cancerous lesions
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Presence of atypical moles or numerous moles
  • Damaged skin (scars, burns)
  • History of radiation exposure
  • Environmental exposure to hazardous chemicals
  • Compromised immune system (immunosuppressive medications)

O utdoor activity planning

  • The sun’s rays are most intense between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm.
  • Even on cloudy days, the majority of ultraviolet rays (UVR) reach the ground days and are reflected by sand, snow, and water
  • Plan for outdoor activities either early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the sun’s strongest rays even when you can’t see the sun

T anning beds should be avoided

  • People who use tanning beds are at higher risk for developing skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.
  • Tanning beds are NOT a safer way to tan.  Tanning represents the skin’s response to sun damage. 

E xamine your skin monthly

  • You should examine your skin monthly to observe for any new growths or changes in existing moles on the skin.  See Skin Cancer Diagnosis and Prevention for what to look for.

C onsult your dermatologist at least once per year

  • It is important to consult with a dermatologist at least once per year even if you don’t have any of the above Risk Factors for skin cancer.  Your dermatologist can complete a thorough history and physical exam to determine your skin’s health and proper maintenance. 

T ake your skin seriously

  • Well over 1 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, some of which are a cause of morbidity and mortality. 
  • Take your skin and these sun protection strategies seriously to minimize your risk for developing skin cancer and other sun related skin conditions.