Protecting your skin and checking it for changes are keys to preventing another melanoma or catching one in an early, treatable stage.

General Guidelines for Preventing Melanoma

Avoid Exposure to the Sun

Exposure to ultraviolet rays produced by the sun increases your risk of melanoma. Here’s how to protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays:

  • Cover your skin with clothing, including a shirt and a hat with a broad brim.
  • When outside, try to sit in shady areas.
  • Avoid exposing your skin to the sun between 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. standard time or 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daylight saving time.
  • Use sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more on skin that will be exposed to the sun.
  • Wear sunglasses with 99% or 100% UV absorption to protect your eyes.
  • Don't use sun lamps or tanning booths.

Check Your Skin for Irregular-looking Moles

Check your skin regularly. If you notice a suspicious looking mole, show it to a doctor experienced in recognizing skin cancers, such as a dermatologist. A suspicious looking mole may have the following characteristics: irregular edges that are not smooth, more than one color or irregular in contour, grown or changed in any way, or bleeds. Your healthcare provider may monitor the mole or recommend removing it.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Contact your doctor if you discover a mole that is new has changed or looks suspicious: large or of irregular shape, color, or texture.