Sun Safety Information

The SunSmart America™ Rules
Slip on some sun protective clothing

Slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen

Slap on a hat

Seek shade

Slide on some sunglasses

American Academy of Dermatology: Facts About Sunscreens

Early Detection Techniques
asymmetry When half of the mole or lesion does not match the other. colors Healthy moles are usually a single shade or color.
borders Melanomas often have blurred, notched, ragged or uneven edges. diameter Moles that grow larger than a pencil's eraser are a cause for concern.
ANY CHANGE in size, shape, color, elevation or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting. Prompt action is your best protection.
Any change in a mole requires the attention of a dermatologist.
Annual visits to a dermatologist can be lifesaving.

Understanding Skin Cancer
Late detected melanomas are often deadly. A major contributing factor to melanoma is excessive sun exposure. Other skin cancers include Basal and Squamous cell cancer. Though these cancers are much less deadly than melanoma, they can be very disfiguring. All skin cancers are managed best when detected early.

What to Look For
Any skin cancer can appear suddenly as a new spot or develop slowly in or near an existing spot. In men, melanomas are most often found between the shoulders and hip, or the head and neck area. In women, melanomas most often develop on the lower legs as well as between the shoulders and hips. Any changes in a spot needs the immediare attention of a dermatoloist.

Who is at Risk?
Anyone exposed to large amounts of sun light is at higher risk of skin cancer. However, other factors can increase your risk of skin cancer:

  • Accumulative overexposure
  • Skin Type: fair complexion, red hair, etc.
  • Outdoor workers
  • An abundance of freckles or moles
  • Severe childhood sunburns
  • Large pigmented skin blemishes
  • Family or personal history of skin cancer
  • Your location, places with stronger sunlight — like Florida, Arizona, Texas, California, etc.
  • Weakened immune system
  • Tanning booth or tanning bed users
National Cancer Institute: Skin Cancer Risk

Facts About The Sun
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a proven human carcinogen (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
  • Humans need minutes of sunlight to activated vitamin D.
  • Sunburns or tanning cause premature skin aging, wrinkles, age spots, resulting in dry, leathery skin texture.
  • You can get sunburn on a cloudy day! Up to 80% of the sun's rays can penetrate light clouds, mist and fog.
  • You can also burn your skin while swimming and skiing. Water, snow, sand and other bright surfaces reflect the sun’s rays.
  • Tanning beds can emit UV rays 12 – 15 times stronger than the rays from the sun. Read more tanning bed facts here.
Important Skin Cancer Facts
  • Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States.
  • ONE MILLON new cases will be diagnosed on 2008.
  • Skin cancer total direct cost associated with treatment was over $1 billion, on 2004.
  • 1 in 5 Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime.
  • 1 or more sunburns double your risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Both Basal cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma have a better than 95 percent cure rate, if detected and treated early.
  • Melanoma accounts for 75% of skin cancer deaths.
  • One American dies of melanoma almost every hour.
Sun Safety Facts
  • Sun safety is a combination of practices: Sunscreen only lets you burn, practice the 5 SunSmart America™ Rules
  • There is no such thing as a safe tan. A base suntan does not prevent burning. It is a degree of sunburn that results in DNA damage.
  • The sun is most harmful between 10 am. and 4 pm.
  • The sun is responsible for many signs of premature aging (wrinkles, freckles, leathery skin, sun spots, etc.)
  • 15-20 minutes in a tanning bed equals 3—4 hours outside in the sun.
  • Tanning beds increase the risk of melanoma and non melanoma skin cancers.
  • The younger you are when you start using tanning beds the more likely you are to get skin cancer.
  • You can get skin cancer ANYWHERE on your body (palms, soles, eyes, under your finger and toe nails, mucous membranes, etc.)
  • ANYONE can get skin cancer. Dark skinned people are NOT immune to melanoma.
Self Exam
  • Examine your body front and back in the mirror, then right and left sides with arms raised
  • Bend elbows and look carefully at forearms, upper underarms and palms
  • Look at the backs of your legs and feet, the spaces between your toes and on the sole
  • Examine the backs of your neck and scalp with a hand mirror - Part hair for a closer look
  • Finally, check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.
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SunSmart Australia
National Cancer Institute (National Institutes of Health)
American Academy of Dermatology
American Cancer Society