Your Smartphone Can Help Protect Your Skin

Your Smartphone Can Help Protect Your Skin

We use technology in most parts of our lives now. But have you thought about using it to protect your skin? The Skin Cancer Foundation says healthy skin can be as close as your smartphone.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. When caught and treated early, skin cancers are usually curable. And you can use your phone to help you protect your skin and catch any problems early.

7 Ways Your Phone Can Help

The Skin Cancer Foundation offers seven easy ways to use your phone to monitor your skin leaving site icon to keep it healthy.

  1. Add an alarm. If you’re outdoors, set a reminder to reapply sunscreen. Aim for every two hours — more often if you’re sweating. And reapply right after you get out of the water.
  2. Set reminders. Set a reminder to do a monthly skin self-exam. That will help you keep an eye on your skin. Don’t forget to set up a reminder for a yearly exam so your doctor can check out your skin.
  3. Use your flashlight. Aim the light at any suspicious skin spots to take a good, close look.
  4. Get ready for your close-up. Use your phone’s camera to take close-up photos of moles, freckles or spots that catch your notice. It can help you keep track of their appearance over time. It can even help you see areas like your back that are hard to see clearly in a mirror.
  5. Monitor monthly. During your monthly self-exam, take new photos and compare to previous ones. Use your photos to track the way your moles, freckles or spots look over time. You can also show the photos to your doctor. Save the photos with a detailed file name, such as left shoulder mole and the date.
  6. Hunt for an app. Check out apps that help you look at, track and monitor skin issues. Just don’t count on an app to protect your health. Reach out to your doctor for help.
  7. Share skin safety. You can use your phone to text family and friends, to support them doing regular skin checks of their own.
Catch It Early

You may think you’re not at risk. But everyone needs to protect their skin and pay attention to any changes. Skin cancer is most easily treated when caught early. Remember, in a self-check, you’re looking for:

  • New moles or skin growths
  • Moles, freckles or growths that have started to change or grow
  • A lesion that itches, bleeds or doesn’t heal

See your doctor if you spot anything troubling.

Reduce Your Risk

Too much sun can raise your risk for skin cancer. That’s why many serious melanoma cancers leaving site icon are found on the face, neck and arms. Those areas get a lot of sun exposure. Here’s what to do to reduce your risk.

First, remember that protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is important all the time. But it’s good to be extra careful when you’re outdoors a lot, including those long summer days.

Second, know that the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the late spring and summer are the most hazardous for UV exposure outdoors in the U.S.

Easy choices for protection:

  • Find shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear clothing to cover your legs and arms.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim. Make sure it shades not only your face but also your neck and ears.
  • Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. Ones that wrap are best.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Make sure it has both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection.
  • Avoid indoor tanning.
Sources: Healthy Skin in Your Pocket, leaving site icon Skin Cancer Federation, 2023; Reducing Risk of Skin Cancer, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023; Sun Safety Facts, leaving site icon CDC, 2024; What’s New in Melanoma Skin Cancer Research?, leaving site icon American Cancer Society, 2024

Originally published 5/26/2021; Revised 2024