A risk factor is something that raises your chances of getting a health problem. Changing some habits can help lower the risk of melanoma.

Limit or Avoid Ultraviolet (UV) Light Exposure

To help protect your skin from UV light:

  • Try not to spend too much time in the sun.
  • Lower the amount of sunlight you are exposed to outside:
    • Stay out of the sun during peak times—Mainly between 10 am and 4 pm.
    • Protect your skin from the sun with clothing. Wear a shirt, sunglasses, and a hat with a broad brim.
    • Use broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more on skin that will be exposed to the sun.
    • Use a protective lip balm.
    • Wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100% of sunlight.
  • Do not use sun lamps or tanning beds.

Check Your Skin

Check your skin on a regular basis. Have someone help you with places you cannot see. Common places are the back, buttocks, scalp, underneath the breasts of women, and the backs of the legs. Look at the soles of your feet, palms of your hands, all your nails, and between your fingers and toes. Call your doctor right away if you notice something new or different in how your skin looks.

All types of skin cancer caught in the earliest stages are the easiest to treat.


Can melanoma skin cancer be found early? American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/detection.html. Updated January 5, 2018. Accessed May 7, 2019.

Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115302/Melanoma. Updated March 26, 2019. Accessed May 7, 2019.

Melanoma. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/cancers-of-the-skin/melanoma. Updated March 2019. Accessed May 7, 2019.

Skin cancer prevention (PDQ)—patient version. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/skin/patient/skin-prevention-pdq. Updated April 10, 2019. Accessed May 7, 2019.

Skin cancer prevention and early detection. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/skin-cancer/prevention-and-early-detection.html. Accessed May 7, 2019.

Sun protection. Skin Cancer Foundation website. Available at: https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection. Accessed May 7, 2019.

Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 5/7/2019