Each year, millions of Americans avoid getting the flu by taking some basic preventive measures: they get a flu shot, wash their hands frequently, and eat right. Most skin cancers can be prevented as well, if basic sun preventive measures are taken.
Follow the ACE plan to save your skin from the harmful effects of the sun!
- A - Avoid UV rays
- C - Cover-Up
- E - Examine your skin
Avoid UV Rays
- Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Stay out of the sun as much as possible between 10am and 4pm when the rays are the strongest.
- When you are outside...Seek Shade.
- Avoid burns and tans from both the sun and tanning beds.
- Avoid exposure to reflective surfaces such as water, glass, concrete, sand, and snow.
- Dress in long sleeved shirts and long pants. Darker colors and tighter weaves work best.
- Wear a hat that covers your head, face, ears, and neck. Look for one with at least a three-inch brim.
- Protect your eyes with sunglasses that have large frames and block 99-100% of UVA/UVB rays.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen or sun block with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher on all your exposed skin.
- Don’t forget to use a lip balm with SPF to protect your lips.
Examine Your Skin
- If you find skin cancer early, it is usually very treatable.
- Look at your skin once a month for new or changing spots, bumps, or moles. If you find something suspicious, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
- Get a yearly skin exam. Your healthcare provider may refer you to a dermatologist who specializes in skin cancer.
UV Index Scale
Pay attention to the Daily UV Index - the higher the number, the more you need to protect yourself from the dangers of UV overexposure. Check the UV index in your area!
2 or Less: Low
- Low danger from the sun's UV rays for the average person
- Wear sunglasses on bright days. In winter, reflection off snow can nearly double UV strength.
- If you burn easily, cover up and use sunscreen.
3 - 5: Moderate
- Moderate risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure.
- Take precautions, such as covering up, if you will be outside.
- Stay in shade near midday when the sun is strongest.
6 - 7: High
- High risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure.
- Apply a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher. Wear a wide-brim hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Protection against sunburn is needed.
- Reduce time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Cover up, wear a hat and sunglasses, and use sunscreen.
8 - 10: Very High
- Very high risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure.
- Protect yourself by liberally applying a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher. Wear protective clothing and sunglasses to protect the eyes.
- Take extra precautions. Unprotected skin will be damaged and can burn quickly.
- Minimize sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Otherwise, seek shade, cover up, wear a hat and sunglasses, and use sunscreen.
- Extreme risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure.
- Avoid sun exposure throughout the day as much as possible.
- Seek shade, cover up, wear a hat and sunglasses, and use sunscreen.
- Apply sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher liberally every 2 hours if you're outside.
- Take all precautions. Unprotected skin can burn in minutes. Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and will increase UV exposure.