Melanoma Awareness Month

By: Brie Veltri, Health Program Specialist, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

What is Skin Cancer?

  • Skin cancer is caused when UV rays penetrate the skin and damage connective tissue and DNA. 
  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.
  • The two most common types are carcinomas. They are highly curable, but can be disfiguring and costly to treat.
  • Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous and causes the most deaths. These three types of skin cancer are caused primarily by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.

Sunburn Fast Facts

  • Your risk of getting skin cancer DOUBLES with five or more sunburns.
  • Redness develops three to five hours after the damage is done, making it hard to tell if you are getting burnt.
  • Redness peaks 12-24 hours after sun exposure.
  • If you have fair skin or hair, you have less melanin. This means you are at a higher risk of a sunburn.
  • Medicines, such as ibuprofen and antibiotics, can increase your risk for sunburns.

Who is at Risk?

The following might put you at greater risk of developing skin cancer:

  • Light skin colors​
  • Blonde and red hair
  • ​Blue or green eyes
  • ​Personal or family history of melanoma
  • ​Exposure to sun through work and play​
  • History of sunburns in early life​
  • History of indoor tanning​
  • Large number of moles ​


By doing the following, you can reduce your risk of skin cancer:

  • Seek shade
    • When possible, outdoor activities should be scheduled to avoid peak UV radiation periods (generally between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.).
  • Cover up
    • Wear hats, scarfs, or other head coverings to keep sun off your face and neck.
    • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
    • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Apply sunscreen
    • Use sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher.
    • Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
    • Make sure to cover all areas of your face and body.

Learn More

Use these resources to learn more about skin cancer, what it is, and ways to protect yourself against it.