Jul 31, 2020 3:00 PM

Photo of Yelena Wu, PhD

Video Transcript

Hi. My name is Yelena Wu, PhD, and I study sun safety behaviors in Utah families at Huntsman Cancer Institute. I’m here to help you understand what sun safety means and why it’s important in preventing skin cancer.

What is sun safety?

Sun safe behaviors help to prevent skin cancers, including melanoma. They include wearing protective clothing such as long sleeve shirts and pants, a broad-brimmed hat, and sunglasses; applying and reapplying sunscreen to exposed skin; and seeking shade when outdoors; avoiding sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest; and avoiding tanning, including through tanning beds or tanning outdoors.

What is UV damage or radiation?

Ultraviolet, or UV, radiation is invisible to the naked eye. UV rays from the sun or artificial sources damages skin cells and this damage can lead to skin cancer.

Common sunscreen mistakes

Often people will not apply enough sunscreen. You want to apply at least one ounce of sunscreen to your skin each time. People also often forget to reapply sunscreen after they’ve been sweating or had contact with water or have been outside for extended periods of time. It can be helpful to set a timer or reminder to reapply sunscreen and to make sure that you always have sunscreen or protective clothing with you.

Is tanning with sunscreen safe?

Tanning is never considered safe. In fact, if you have a tan from being in the sun or a tanning bed, it means damage has happened to your skin cells, and this can increase your risk for skin cancer. If you really want to have tan skin, the safest way to do this is through using sunless tanners.

Can darker skin tones damage?

While darker pigments in the skin can offer some protection against the harmful effects of UV exposure, damage to the skin cells can still occur. So even people who have darker skin tones are susceptible to skin cancer.

Should kids wear sunscreen?

Sunscreen should be worn by people of all ages. Because most sunscreens have not been tested in infants younger than six months, their use is not formally recommended before that age. But there’s no evidence that sunscreen use in infants is unsafe. Infants should generally be kept in the shade and wear lightweight protective clothing.

Making sun safety habits easier

It’s important to acknowledge that doing sun safe habits every day is a lot of work and that no one is likely going to be a hundred percent perfect at doing this. Try to make sun safe behaviors part of your or your family’s routine and a habit. And make doing sun safe behaviors as easy as possible. For example, have your hat next to the door so it’s ready to go or have sunscreen packed in your child’s sports bag for the next day so that they have it when they go to get ready for their sport that afternoon.

melanoma sun safety skin cancer cancer prevention cancer control and population sciences

Cancer touches all of us.

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