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Summer Sun and Skin Cancer Protection: What You Need to Know

contributed by Anna Megdell

Tips and tricks to protect yourself and your loved ones from the summer sun

illustration of a beach scene of people with dark-colored skin using sunscreen
Courtesy Michigan Medicine

Summer is upon us, which means backyard grilling, swimming in the neighborhood pool, and being outside as much as possible. It also means increased sun exposure.

The American Cancer Society estimates nearly 120,000 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma every year. Risk factors include:

  • sun exposure
  • having many moles or atypical moles on the skin
  • having a personal or family history of melanoma

Remember: If you spend any time in the sun, it increases your risk of melanoma. The good news is the majority of cases are caught in the early stages, when the chances of a cure are high.

Here are some tips to help you stay protected all summer long.

  • Sunscreen should be worn every day, especially on your face and arms, no matter what – even on overcast days!
  • Apply sunscreen first thing in the morning and reapply every couple of hours while outside.
  • Find a sunscreen that you love with at least SPF 30 and stock up. Put an extra bottle in your car for easier reapplication.
  • If using a spray sunscreen, make sure to rub in the product to receive proper coverage.
  • Wear SPF clothing and hats to provide additional sun protection.
  • Stay out of the sun during peak hours, between 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • When outside, seek out shade. Bring an umbrella to create your own shade.
  • Use a makeup brush to make applying sunscreen to kids easier.
  • Conduct regular skin checks. If a new spot appears or an existing spot changes appearance, reach out to a dermatologist for further examination.

Questions about skin cancer prevention or detection? Call the Michigan Medicine Cancer AnswerLine at 800-865-1125.