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Protect Your Skin: How to Avoid Sun Exposure

You may feel healthier with a bit of a tan, but your skin doesn't. The sunlight that warms our bones and makes flowers grow contains UV radiation that can be bad news.

Here's Why:

Exposure to UV radiation from sunlight can lead to:

Here's How:

Avoid Overexposure

Protect Your Skin

You can't always avoid the sun. If you are in the sun follow these guidelines:

Learn how to check your skin. Look for any changes in the size, texture, or color of a mole. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you check your skin every month. Show your doctor any unusual or new skin changes. Early detection can prevent some skin cancer. The earlier a skin cancer is found the better the outcome tends to be.

Wear Protective Clothing and Sunglasses

Look for specialty clothing:

For regular clothes:

Wear a wide-brim hat and sunglasses. A hat with a six inch brim all around is best. Choose sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.

The UV Index

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Weather Service report the UV Index every day. This shows the UV radiation levels in different areas in the country. Here is how to interpret the number:


American Academy of Dermatology

The Skin Cancer Foundation


Canadian Dermatology Association

Canadian Cancer Society


Early detection and self exams. Skin Cancer Foundation website. Available at: http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection. Accessed November 17, 2017.

Get in on the trend. Skin Cancer Foundation website. Available at: http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/clothing/get-in-on-the-trend. Accessed November 17, 2017.

Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115302/Melanoma. Updated October 16, 2017. Accessed November 17, 2017.

Should you put sunscreen on infants? Not usually. US Food & Drug Administration website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm309136.htm. Updated November 6, 2017. Accessed November 17, 2017.

Skin cancer: prevention. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/skin-cancer. Updated July 2017. Accessed November 17, 2017.

Preventing skin cancer. Skin Cancer Foundation website. Available at: http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/prevention-guidelines. Accessed November 17, 2017.

Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs. Accessed November 17, 2017.

UV index scale. United States Environmental Protection Agency website. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/sunsafety/uv-index-scale-1. Accessed November 17, 2017.

Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP  Last Updated: 4/5/2018