The sun’s light feels good on our skin, but that tan that people have come to associate with health is the first sign of skin damage. Exposure to the sun’s rays accelerates aging and increases the risk of skin cancer.


Protect Your Skin From the Sun


  • Don’t get sunburned.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Limit your time in the sun.
  • Wear clothes that provide UV protection (shirts, pants, hats).
  • Stay in the shade. (Create shade with an umbrella if necessary.)
  • Avoid the midday sun.
  • Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with UV resistant lenses.


Infants, Children, and Teens – Sun Safety Tips


Excessive sun exposure for infants, children, and teens causes skin cancer risk and long-term skin damage. In addition to the above recommendations:


  • Infants under six months should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible. Their skin is not yet protected by melanin.       The American Academy of Pediatrics says that small amounts of sunscreen can be used on infants less than 6 months of age as a last resort when shade cannot be found.
  • Young children’s skin can be sensitive to chemical allergens found in some sunscreens. Test sunscreen on the inside of your child’s wrist the day before you plan to use it. If an irritation develops, try another product.
  • When your child is playing outdoors, reapply sunscreen often.
  • Teenagers, coveting bronzed skin, are likely to sunbathe, visit tanning salons, or buy self-tanning products – all harmful. Tanning salons expose the skin to as much as 15 times more UV radiation than the sun.
  • Parents, be good role models and let your children see that you protect yourself from the sun.


Men and Sun Exposure


  • In 2009, nearly twice as many American men died from melanoma as women. Surveys show that 34% of men wear sunscreen, compared to 78% of women.




Some sunscreens prevent sunburn but not other types of skin damage. Find a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection. Limit your sun exposure even when wearing sunscreen.


  • Use a sunscreen that is 15 SPF or higher and reapply often.
  • Look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide, 3% avobenzone or Mexoryl SX, which protect the skin from harmful UVA radiation.
  • Avoid sunscreens with vitamin A. (Government data shows that tumors and lesions develop sooner on skin coated with creams laced with vitamin A (also called retinyl palmitate or retinol).)
  • Avoid lip products that contain retinyl palmitate, retinol or vitamin A.
  • Avoid spray-on sunscreens. Sprays fill the air with tiny particles that may be unsafe to breathe.


Additional Tips


  • Vitamin D is a necessary hormone in our bodies that is manufactured by the skin in the presence of sunlight. Protecting your skin from sun exposure can impact your body’s vitamin D level.       Ask your health care provider to test you for vitamin D and recommend supplements if necessary.
  • Check your skin regularly for new moles that are irregularly shaped, tender, or growing.
  • Ask your health care provider how often you should see a dermatologist.


The Cancer Resource Centers’ 2015 information series on cancer types: risk factors and symptoms is sponsored by CRC in collaboration with the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency. The information presented is for educational purposes and is not intended to replace the advice of your health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your health care provider any questions or concerns that you may have.