Protecting your skin and checking it for changes are keys to preventing melanoma or catching one in an early, treatable stage.

Avoid Exposure to the Sun

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays produced by the sun increases your risk of melanoma. Here’s how to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays:

  • Avoid spending too much time in the sun.
  • Avoid exposing your skin to the sun between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM standard time, or 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM daylight saving time.
  • 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 with 99% or 100% UV absorption to protect your eyes.
  • Don't use sun lamps or tanning booths.
  • Get regular full-body skin exams by a dermatologist. The doctor will check for moles, freckles, and other growths.
Check Your Skin for Abnormal-looking Moles

Check your skin regularly and have someone help you check areas you can’t see, such as your back and buttocks, scalp, underneath the breasts of women, and the backs of the legs. If you notice a new, changing or an irregular-looking mole, show it to a doctor experienced in recognizing skin cancers, such as a dermatologist. This may include large, irregular shape with a border that is not smooth and even, more than one color, or irregular texture. Your doctor may monitor the mole or recommend removing it

If you have a condition called dysplastic nevus syndrome, you should have your dermatologist check your skin regularly for atypical moles.