The skin and sun exposure
You probably don't think about your skin very much. But it’s the largest organ in the body.
The skin does a lot of important things. It:
- keeps everything inside the body
- protects your insides from infections and injury
- helps keep your body temperature normal
- lets you feel things by touch.
The skin is made up of two layers:
- Epidermis – this is the surface layer of the skin. It is tough and waterproof. Epidermis cells are constantly rubbing off and being replaced.
- Dermis – this layer contains the nerves, blood vessels, sweat glands and hair roots.
It’s really important to protect your skin from the sun. You should not use a sunbed if you have a melanoma or you’re at risk of one.
It’s important to be careful about how much sun you’re exposed to. But you need some sunlight to make enough vitamin D to keep your bones and teeth healthy.
People who’ve never had melanoma can usually get enough sun exposure by going outside regularly without sunscreen on for a few minutes around the middle of the day. The amount of sun you need depends on your hair and skin type. But it’s important not to stay out long enough to let your skin redden or burn.
If you have or had melanoma, ask your skin specialist for advice on sun exposure and vitamin D.
This information is about the skin and sun exposure. We also have more information about:
If you're looking for information about melanoma in people of all ages, please see our general melanoma section.