How to Protect Yourself From the Sun and Skin Cancer

Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays to reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Summer’s here and it’s finally time to soak up some rays. But before you go outside, make sure to educate yourself on how to enjoy the sun while staying safe.

The risk of skin cancer shouldn’t be treated lightly. As it is the most common form of cancer, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. In 2017 alone, 87,110 new melanomas will be diagnosed, and 9,730 people are expected to die from this deadly form of cancer.

According to expert Ashley Wysong, MD, MS, assistant clinical professor of Dermatology and director of Mohs and Dermatologic Surgery at USC Dermatology at Keck Medicine of USC, there has been a 619 percent increase in melanoma rates since 1950. “The majority of melanoma cases can be explained by a combination of genetics and ultraviolet exposure from the sun as well as artificial UV through tanning beds,” Dr. Wysong said.

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Because 80 percent of the sun’s rays can pass through clouds and fog, it is important to monitor your exposure to the sun as summer heats up and your outdoor activities increase. These tips will help you stay sun safe:

  • Stay in the shade. When possible sit in the shade or shade your body under an umbrella or hat to avoid UV radiation exposure.
  • Wear sunglasses. Your eyes are extremely sensitive to the sun. Wearing sunglasses reduces UV exposure up to 98 percent.
  • Choose a 30+ sunscreen and reapply it every two hours.
  • Wear protective clothing. Long sleeves, high collared shirts and pants that cover the skin are your best protection. Look for clothing with sun protection.

Finally, it’s better safe than sorry: Cover up when you are unsure of harmful exposure to the sun. This infographic explains how to protect yourself and your family from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays.

Skin Cancer Infographic

By Heidi Tyline King

Concerned about skin care and your risk of skin cancer? The Department of Dermatology at Keck Medicine of USC is recognized nationally for providing the highest quality of dermatology care. Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist to learn more. If you are in the Los Angeles area, book an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting