Ultraviolet (UV) rays are an invisible form of radiation. They can pass through your skin and damage your skin cells. Sunburns are a sign of skin damage. Suntans aren't healthy, either. They appear after the sun's rays have already killed some cells and damaged others. UV rays can cause skin damage during any season or at any temperature. They can also cause eye problems, wrinkles, skin spots, and skin cancer.
To protect yourself
- Stay out of the sun when it is strongest (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.)
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher
- Wear protective clothing
- Wear wraparound sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV ray protection
- Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds
Check your skin regularly for changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of birthmarks, moles, and spots. Such changes are a sign of skin cancer.
Food and Drug Administration
Prevention and Risk Factors
- How to Decode Sunscreen Labels (American Academy of Dermatology)
- Protecting Yourself from Sun Exposure (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) - PDF Also in Spanish
- Sun Safety (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Sunscreen: How to Help Protect Your Skin from the Sun (Food and Drug Administration)
- Actinic Cheilitis (Logical Images)
- Actinic Keratosis (Solar Keratosis) (Logical Images)
- Best Sunscreen: Understand Sunscreen Options (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Cutaneous Horn (Logical Images)
- Essential Outdoor Sun Safety Tips for Winter (Skin Cancer Foundation)
- Poikiloderma of Civatte (Logical Images)
- Solar Lentigo (Logical Images)
- Sunscreens FAQs (American Academy of Dermatology)
- Vitamin D (National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements) Also in Spanish
Health Check Tools
- Is Misinformation Increasing Your Risk of Skin Cancer (American Academy of Dermatology)
Statistics and Research
- Is Sunscreen Safe? (American Academy of Dermatology)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Protective Effect of Botulinum Toxin against Ultraviolet-Induced Skin Pigmentation.
- Article: DNA Methyltransferases in Malar Melasma and Their Modification by Sunscreen in...
- Article: Photosensitivity and photoprotection in patients with lupus erythematosus.
- Sun Exposure -- see more articles
- Effects of Early Sun Exposure (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
- How Can I Protect My Children from the Sun? (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Should You Put Sunscreen on Infants? Not Usually (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
- Sunburn: Treatment and Prevention (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in Spanish
- What Kids Should Know About What Causes a Sunburn (American Academy of Dermatology)
- Health Effects of Too Much Sun (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health)