How to Practice Safe Sun

Melanoma protection tips

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) While the healthy glow of a suntan looks good - even sexy - doctors say to beware - be aware. The sun is powerful and potentially dangerous. So protect yourself with safe sun practices.

Doctors at the University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center are working to raise awareness of the dangers of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer that's on the rise in the United States.

Roughly one in fifty Americans is expected to develop the potentially fatal disease, but if it's caught early, melanoma is more curable, says Gregory Daniels, MD, PhD, clinical coordinator of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center’s Melanoma Program.

"Use a broad sprectrum sunscreen and avoid the sun between 10-3."

Melanoma is a fast-growing cancer that starts in the cells of the skin that produce pigment called melanocytes. Unlike other forms of skin cancer that don't usually spread to other parts of the body, melanoma cells grow out of control and start to invade surrounding tissues very quickly.

Warning signs

For spotting melanoma, doctors say to follow the ABCs. Look at the moles on your body and assess the following:

A - Assymetry – Is the mole no longer a defined, symmetrical shape?
B - Border irregularity – Is the border broken or notched where it had been even?
C - Color change – Has the mole changed to a darker, different or uneven color?
D - Diameter – Has the size of the mole increased?
E - Elevation – Is the mole more raised or elevated?
F - Feeling – Is it itchy, red, swollen, softer or harder, oozing, crusty or bloody?

If you notice any of these changes, you'll want to see a healthcare professional. If it is an early growth, the melanoma can be removed for a complete cure.

Safe sun practices

Many of these you already know, but here's a review how to protect yourself and your family:

  • Avoid being outside in the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. - even on cloudy or overcast days
  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF or higher
  • If you are fair, use a higher SPF product
  • Replace your sunscreen every year, as most lose their potency after a year
  • Do not use tanning booths

Doctors add there is no such thing as a "safe tan." So take care, don't burn and practice safe sun.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 23, 2011
Last Updated:
June 25, 2011