Sun Safety

What does skin damage actually mean?

Ultraviolet radiation, through natural sun light and/or tanning beds, causes damage to skin cells. This damage to the skin cells can alter the DNA of the cell and cause changes in how the cell function. Abnormal mutations and growth of the cells may occur causing malignant or cancerous growths. Factors that can increase the chance of this happening to you are: 1. Pale/fair complexion 2. Family history of skin cancer 3. Severe sunburns in the past 4. Unprotected or excessive exposure to UV rays 5. Occupational exposure.


Not all sunscreens are created equal! The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently released new rules for sunscreen labels to help you better protect yourself.

The FDA advises the following:
  • Use sunscreens labeled with a broad spectrum SPF value of at least 15. Broad spectrum refers to protection from the sun's full range of lights.
  • There is no evidence that SPF above 50 provide added protection.
  • No sunscreen is truly waterproof. All sunscreens lose some of their potency when wet.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours.
  • Limit time in the sun, especially between 10am-2pm.
The FDA has created this video to help educate consumers on purchasing sunscreen.

Sun tanning booths

All the studies are in, and tanning beds are not a safe way to get a tan. Studies have shown that people who visit a tanning salon only 4 times each year can increase their risk of melanoma (a highly aggressive form of skin cancer) by 1.5 times and squamous cell cancer 2.5 times. As more research is done, the risks of skin cell damage from indoor tanning have become increasingly apparent.

Listen to the story of a college-aged skin cancer survivor, originally posted to the Skin Cancer Foundation's website. Natalie is 22 and is a melanoma survivor.