A melanoma usually appears as a flat, dark mole with irregular borders. It may be lumpy or round and may change color. Some melanomas ooze, bleed or become crusted. It may take other shapes as well. Most melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun, although other factors may put patients at greater risk of developing melanoma. Identifying these risks and taking the proper precautions may help reduce your risk of melanoma and prevent the disease altogether. Individuals with xeroderma pigmentosum, a skin condition that causes sensitivity to the sun, should also recognize that they are at greater risk of melanoma.

Recognizing Risks

Individuals who may be at greater risk of melanoma include those with fair skin, blue or green eyes, blonde or red hair and who have a family history of melanoma. Individuals who freckle easily or who have a lot of moles on their body may also be at a greater risk.

Sunlight

Excessive exposure to sunlight is one of the chief concerns for individuals who are at risk of melanoma and many other skin related problems. Everybody should limit their sun exposure, as even those who are not at a greater risk of melanoma may develop the disease as well. Wearing sunscreen and the proper clothing when outdoors may be very helpful in reducing your risk of melanoma. Dermatologists often recommend wearing sunscreen of at least SPF 15, although some recommend at least SPF 30 for those at higher risk of melanoma. A higher SPF should be used for those who are at higher elevations. If you work outdoors, wear a light long sleeve shirt, long pants and a hat to prevent excessive sun exposure. The same goes for patients with fair skin, blue or green eyes and blonde or red hair and others who are at high risk of melanoma. Clothing that is tightly woven is best for keeping out the sun.

Say 'No' to Tanning Beds

Invidiously, especially those at higher risk of melanoma should avoid sunbathing and should stay away from tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from tanning beds have been found to be just as dangerous as those from the sun, if not more so. Further questions about melanoma and how to reduce your risk of the disease should be directed to a licensed skincare professional.