Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Stay Safe in the Sun After Skin Cancer

By Camille Peri
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD

If you've had skin cancer, you don't need to stay indoors and read a book while everyone else is out riding a bike or at a ball game. You do need to be extra careful in the sun, though.

"We want to encourage a healthy lifestyle," says Lisa Chipps, MD, director of dermatologic surgery at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Recommended Related to Melanoma/Skin Cancer

Should I Consider a Clinical Trial for Metastatic Melanoma?

It's natural to want the very latest treatments when you have a serious health condition like metastatic melanoma. One way to get those cutting-edge drugs is to sign up for a clinical trial. Before you enroll, you'll want to learn all you can about the study, what's being tested, and the risks and benefits. Work with your doctor to get that information and make sure the trial is a good fit for you. But first, get to know what's involved.

Read the Should I Consider a Clinical Trial for Metastatic Melanoma? article > >

But once you've had a skin cancer, she says, you're more likely to have another. If you've had a melanoma, the most serious skin cancer, you're nine times more likely to have a new one.

The key, Chipps says, is to take steps to protect your skin from harmful rays whenever you go outside -- whether you're going to the beach or just to the office.

6 Tips for Outdoor Sun Safety

If you're going to be outdoors for a while, try these tips:

Avoid the sun when it's strongest. That's between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Go out earlier or in the late afternoon.

Go under cover. Covering up with the right clothes may protect you even better than sunscreen. When selecting clothing:

  • If you can see through the fabric, ultraviolet (UV) rays can get through, too. Pick a tighter weave. Regular clothing has an SPF (sun protection factor) of 6. You need clothing with an SPF of 50 to protect yourself.
  • Consider shirts and pants made in UV-absorbing fabric, especially if you burn easily.
  • Complete your outfit with a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.

Apply sunscreen early and often. If you're in and out of the water or working up a sweat in the garden, you need a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Find one that's water-resistant for 80 minutes. To protect against cancer-causing UVA rays, look for ingredients like:

"Apply a shot glass-sized amount to your whole body at least 30 minutes before you're in the sun," says Brian Johnson, MD. He's a dermatologic surgeon in Norfolk, VA, and a spokesman for the Skin Cancer Foundation.

If you use a sunscreen spray, apply it until an even sheen appears on all of your exposed skin. Don't spray sunscreen on your face. Spray it in your hands, and then spread it on your face. But be careful where you are when you apply it. Some sunscreen sprays may contain ingredients that can catch fire.

Today on WebMD

Malignant melanoma
About 40-50 percent of those who live to be 65 may get it. Here’s how to spot early.
Woman checking out tan lines
There’s a dark side to that strive for beauty. See them here.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
12 Ways to Protect Your Skin from Melanoma
precancerous lesions slideshow
Do You Know Your Melanoma ABCs
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
screening tests for men
Vitamin D
Is That Mole Skin Cancer
Brilliant sun rays