Melanoma is a form of skin cancer in the cells that are responsible for making pigment for our bodies. According to the CDC, UV exposure causes more than 90% of melanomas in the US. With more than 9,000 Americans dying of melanoma each year, it is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. While anyone can develop melanoma, there are certain factors that may raise your risk of melanoma. These factors include:

  • A lighter natural skin color
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Exposure to the sun through work or play
  • History of sunburns
  • Indoor tanning
  • Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun
  • Light colored eyes
  • Blonde or red hair
  • Certain types and a large number of moles

While certain factors may raise your risk of developing melanoma, there are steps you can take to help prevent melanoma. Protection from harmful UV rays is the most important step in preventing melanoma or other forms of skin cancer. Check out these preventive tips recommended by the CDC:

  • Stay in the shade whenever possible: If you are heading out to the park, pick a spot in the shade to settle and relax. The sun is often the most harmful during midday time.
  • Wear protective clothing: Wear protective clothing when swimming or spending time in the sun at the beach or pool. Light colored clothing is best for protection against UV rays, however, this should not replace the use of sunscreen.
  • Wear sunglasses: Look for sunglasses that protect your eyes from both UVA and UVB rays. Wearing a hat may also protect your eyes and face from the sun’s rays.
  • Use sunscreen: You should always use sunscreen when spending time in the sun. A sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 15 or higher is best. Reapply at least every two hours while in the sun.
  • Avoid indoor tanning: indoor tanning exposes people to a higher level of UV rays than from the sun and may lead to melanoma as well as premature skin aging.

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