WAUSAU – One in five Americans will get skin cancer at least once in their life, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. There are three major types, and the most deadly – melanoma – kills about 20 people every day.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and serves as an opportunity to educate people about prevention and early detection of the most common of all cancer types.

Skin cancer is usually a result of accumulated sun exposure, which means that it’s preventable. We should protect our children from early exposure, but it’s never too late to take preventative steps to reduce our own risk, no matter our age.

AAD and the Skin Cancer Foundation say to remember these eight do’s and don’ts for protecting your skin this summer:

  1. Seek shade, especially when the sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  2. Wear sun-protective clothing, such as a lightweight and long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection, when possible.
  3. Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. This will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
  4. Shield the little ones. It’s best to keep infants out of the sun completely for the first six months, but other measures such as sun-protective clothing and stroller sunshades are still recommended for unintended exposure. Sunscreen can be applied at six months.
  5. Use extra caution near water, snow and sand, as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
  6. Watch out for windows. While glass blocks UVB rays pretty well, it allows UVA rays to pass through. When you’re in the car or near a window at home, remember to wear sunscreen and sun-protective clothes.
  7. Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from tanning beds can cause skin cancer and premature skin aging. If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product instead, but don’t forget a layer of sunscreen.
  8. Early detection starts with you. Perform regular skin self-exams to detect skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable. For example, the ABCDE method applies to new or changing moles. A is for asymmetry; B is for irregular borders; C is for color variation; D is for a diameter greater than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser); and E is for evolution, or any change in a mole, including size, shape or color.

When in doubt, get it checked out. Board-certified dermatologists are experts in caring for the skin and have more experience diagnosing skin cancer than any other doctor.

Dr. Sarah Hostetler sees patients at Aspirus Dermatology Clinic in Wausau.