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Skin care after skin cancer

When you've had skin cancer, you are more at risk of developing another. Find out how to protect your skin.

Protecting your skin from the sun

If you've been diagnosed with skin cancer, it's important to take extra care in the sun. You're at increased risk of getting another. We recommend that you:
  • wear close weave cotton clothing in the sun
  • wear long sleeves and trousers
  • wear a hat with a wide brim that shades your face and neck
  • wear sunglasses that give 100% UV protection
  • use a high factor sunscreen when you're in the sun
  • spend time in the shade when the sun is strongest – between 11am and 3pm
  • never use a sunbed

Suncreen

No sunscreen, no matter how high the factor, can provide 100% protection.

If you've had skin cancer, you should avoid spending too long in the sun. Use a product with at least an SPF of 15. Your skin cancer specialist might suggest a high factor sunscreen such as 50 on any exposed skin. The SPF is to give you extra protection. It does not mean you can safely sunbathe.

Choosing sunscreen

Choose a sunscreen with good protection against UVA and UVB. This is because both UVA and UVB rays cause skin cancer. The SPF shows how much protection the sunscreen gives against UVB radiation – as long as you put enough on. The higher the SPF number, the more protection it provides by filtering out UVB rays:
  • SPF 15 filters out 93%
  • SPF 30 filters out 96%
  • SPF 60 filters out 98%

In the UK, the level of UVA protection is shown in 1 of 2 ways:

You should see a star rating of up to 5 stars on UK sunscreens. Use a product with at least 4 stars. 

A symbol with the letters UVA inside a circle is a European marking. It means that it meets the European Standard.

Checking you skin

Being diagnosed with one skin cancer means you are at risk of developing another. So it’s worth being aware of what your skin normally looks like.

Go to see your doctor if you notice any skin changes or possible symptoms of skin cancer. Also see your doctor if there are any changes in the site where you had your original skin cancer.

Remember, most non melanoma skin cancers are treated successfully.  It’s rare for early stage skin cancers to come back. So keep an eye on things, but don’t worry too much.

Last reviewed: 
16 Sep 2014
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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.​