With the sun's ultraviolet rays being the major cause of skin cancers, limiting exposure to them is by far the best way to reduce your risk. Reducing your time outside on sunny days, wearing sunscreen, and protecting yourself with clothing are all effective ways to help minimise the chance of skin cancer.
For some people, though, the risk is slightly higher, and it helps you know if you fall into one of these groups. If you do, it doesn't mean you should worry – just that it's worth taking a bit of extra care with the sunshine and having regular skin cancer checks. Protect yourself, and you'll have a better chance of maintaining good health. And if you fall into any of these groups, look out for signs on your skin, like new or changed moles or suspicious skin complaints.
People with light skin
Those with darker skin have higher levels of melanin, which naturally gives some protection against the sun. People with particularly fair skin are at increased risk of skin cancer, especially those with blonde or red hair, blue eyes, or freckles.
But if you don't fall into this group, don't be fooled into thinking you're not at risk. You should still take care and protect yourself, even if you don't tend to get sunburned.
Those with a lot of childhood sun exposure
Skin cancer is not just one disease; there are actually two main types. While squamous cell carcinoma is linked to sun exposure throughout life, the other kind, basal cell carcinoma, often happens in people who were in the sun a lot in childhood. Even if you've avoided overexposure in adulthood, basal cell carcinoma can still occur, so pay attention to your skin.
Ultraviolet exposure doesn't just happen in natural sunlight; sunbeds use this type of light as well. Be careful not to use sunbeds excessively, and pay attention to the advice given by the people who run tanning salons.
People with immune system disorders
A compromised immune system can lead to a higher-than-usual risk of skin cancer, so people with diseases like HIV should be extra careful with their time in the sun.
Previous skin cancer sufferers
If you've had skin cancer before, there's a greater chance of getting it in the future than there is among those who have never had it. Follow your doctor's advice and get checked immediately if you have cause for concern.
Those with skin conditions
Eczema, psoriasis, and many other conditions can make the skin more susceptible to damage and reduce its resistance to UV rays. Make sure you always use a good-quality sunblock and take care in full sunlight.