While not all melanomas can be prevented, there are many ways to reduce your risk, including:
Limiting ultraviolet (UV) exposure
Protect yourself with these simple and effective tips:
- Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants or skirts, dark colors and tightly-woven fabrics.
- Wear a hat with a two to three-inch brim all the way around to shield areas of the head and neck that are often exposed to intense sun.
- Use sunscreen and lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater every day, regardless of whether the sun is shining; reapply frequently to maximize efficacy. Since children often spend more time outdoors, extra precautions should be taken.
- Wear sunglasses that wrap around the sides of the face and have at least 99 percent UV absorption to protect the eyes and surrounding skin.
- Seek shade to help limit exposure to UV light, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.
Avoiding tanning beds and sunlamps
Tanning beds produce damaging UVA and UVB rays that can lead to skin cancer and an increased risk of melanoma, especially if use began before age 30.
Watching for abnormal moles
Depending on its appearance, a doctor may choose to remove a mole or monitor it with regular exams to watch for signs that it may be changing into melanoma. Since most melanomas do not develop from moles, routine mole removal is not generally suggested.