You can't always prevent melanoma, but you can take steps to reduce your risk. Here are some tips:
Protect yourself from UV exposure. That goes for the sun and artificial UV light, such as tanning beds and sunlamps.
- Avoid peak UV light hours, which are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- When you do go out, wear lip balm with sun protection and a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, making sure to follow application directions and recommendations for reapplying. And, don’t be fooled by cloudy or hazy days. Sun damage that increases skin cancer risk occurs even without a noticeable burn.
- Cover up with clothing; long-sleeved shirts, long pants and long skirts are good options, and dark colors and tightly woven fabrics usually provide the most protection. Sun-protective clothing that lists its UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) is also available, as are laundry additives that can boost UPF value in clothes.
- Choose sunglasses that wrap around for maximum protection of the eyes and surrounding skin. They should be labeled as having at least 99 percent UV absorption and blocking both UVA and UVB light.
- Put on a hat with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim. Tightly woven fabric hats are best.
Be vigilant. Perform regular self-exams by using the ABCDEs of melanoma detection and have your healthcare provider check any suspicious growths. You should also consider yearly exams by your provider.