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San Francisco, CA
Skin Cancer
Skin Cancer Guide
Transplant Patient Guide
Caring for Transplant Patients
Organ Transplant Immunosuppressed High Risk Skin Cancer Clinic
Tumor Board
Mohs Surgery
Contact and Referrals
Research and Clinical Trials
Dermatology Faculty


Preventative Care

Sun avoidance

  • Avoid sun exposure as much as possible between the hours of 10AM and 4PM
  • Don't stay in the sun for prolonged periods of time, even if you are wearing sunscreen
  • Seek shade
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Even on cloudy days, 80% of sun’s UV rays reach you

Read more about sun avoidance

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Use broad spectrum sunscreen daily with SPF of 30 or greater- UVA/UVB protection.
  • Apply ~30 minutes prior to sun-exposure.
  • Apply to all sun-exposed areas. Don't forget lips, ears, back of neck, or back of legs.
  • Apply a sufficient coat of sunscreen- most common mistake is being too stingy
  • Reapply every 2 hours when out in the sun- more frequently if in water or sweating
  • Use lip balm with sun block daily that is frequently reapplied
  • Chemical sunblocks- these function by absorbing the harmful energy of sunlight before it reaches your skin
    • Most chemicals used in sunblock only provide protection over a narrow range of UV radiation. Therefore, sunblocks often use combinations of chemical blockers to provide broad spectrum protection.
    • USCF typically recommends chemical sunblocks that contain Parsol 1789 (avobenzone) because of its superior protection against UVA radiation
    • Mexoryl (Anthelios) is another chemical sunblock that provides excellent broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. It is not approved for use in the United States by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) but is sold in Europe and Canada, often through internet sites.
  • Physical blockers- contain ingredients that scatter UV radiation before it reaches your skin
    • titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the only two physical sunblocks are generally considered equally effective
      both offer broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection
      good for sensitive skin

Read more about sunblock

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UV protective clothing

  • Wear protective clothing
    • Long sleeve shirts and long pants with a tight fabric weave
    • A white cotton T-shirt only provides a SPF of ~5.
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat -
    Baseball style caps provide no protection for the ears, a common area for skin cancer to occur.
  • Wear sunglasses with a UV protective coating
    Specialized UV protective clothing are available from several manufacturers (SunPrecautions clothing, Coolibar, etc…)

Read more about UV protective clothing

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Updated: May 4, 2007
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.
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