Skin Smart Campus Initiative

Carroll College has been recognized as a Skin Smart Campus by The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention.  Ensuring the well-being of our students, we are providing a safe and healthy learning and living environment on and off campus, pledging to keep indoor tanning devices off our campus and our affiliated buildings.  We also promote skin cancer prevention policies and education.

The Indoor Tan-Free Skin Smart Campus Initiative is sponsored by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention in response to the 2014 U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer which concluded that there is a strong association between increased risk of skin cancer and indoor tanning use.

  • Unprotected exposure to UV radiation causes DNA in cells to be damaged, creating genetic defects, or mutations leading to skin cancer
  • Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime
  • Checking your skin monthly can help catch skin cancer in its early stages
  • The two most common types of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma; these both are highly curable but can be disfiguring and costly
  • Melanoma (the 3rd most common type of skin cancer) can be deadly
  • Every hour one American dies from melanoma
  • Approximately 90% of cutaneous melanomas are caused by UV exposure
  • We live in a state such as Montana where it is too cold and snowy to worry about being sunburnt in the winter.

    • FALSE. The sun’s intensity may be lower during the winter, however the snow reflects its damaging rays and can increase your chance of sunburn and damage to your skin. 

  • People with darker skin are not at risk to develop sun damage or skin cancer. 

    • FALSE. Naturally dark people are at a lower risk of skin cancer than those who are fair-toned, however this does not mean they are not at risk. Darker skin people should still protect themselves and realize that their malignant moles are often not detected until the later stages of cancer. This can be even more dangerous because the earlier you detect skin cancer, the better your chance of survival.

  • You don’t need to wear sunscreen on a cloudy day.

    • FALSE. The sun can still cause long-term damage to your skin even under the “protection” of clouds. 

  • Tanning beds are safer than UV rays from the sun.

    • FALSE. Exposure to ultraviolet light from tanning beds can cause sunspots, freckles, and wrinkles. One in every five Americans develop skin cancer due to this exposure.

  • I’m not at risk for skin cancer because I rarely go outside on a regular basis and am only out for small amounts.

    • FALSE. Dermatologists have found that even brief exposure to the sun throughout the years can add up. Even just walking from the parking lot of a store, opening your windows, or having your sunroof open can expose your skin to the damaging UV rays of the sun. Keep in mind that the peak sun hours you should be most aware of is during 10am-4pm everyday.

  • UVA vs. UVB rays

    • UVA rays, a longer wavelength, make up about 95% of the sun’s rays and are the cause of skin aging and skin cancer
    • UVB rays, a shorter wavelength, make up the other 5% and are cause skin burning
  • UV radiation is also the cause of accelerated aging of the skin
  • Tanned skin is damaged skin--it is a sign that your skin cells are damaged
  • The UV index can change daily.  Be sure to check the weather and prepare accordingly
RatingRiskMinutes to burnPrecautions
0-2Minimal60 MinutesSunscreen, UV sunglasses
2-4Low45 MinutesSunscreen, UV sunglasses
4-6Moderate30 MinutesSunscreen, UV sunglasses and hat
6-10High15 MinutesSunscreen, UV sunglasses, hat and umbrella
10-15Very High10 Minutes

Sunscreen, UV sunglasses, hat, umbrella and avoiding midday sun

Informatinal Website UVA vs. UVB Rays

  • Use the below characteristics during your monthly mole self-checks. If you are concerned about even just one mole having negative aspects, make an appointment with your local dermatologist for a skin evaluation other than your yearly check-up. 

  • A: Asymmetry- most melanomas are asymmetrical; if you were to draw a line through the middle of the mole, the two halves wouldn’t match.

  • B: Border- melanoma borders are often uneven and have notched or scalloped edges; whereas normal moles tend to be more smooth and even around their borders.

  • C: Color- varying shades of brown, black, or tan; melanomas can even appear red, white, or blue.

  • D: Diameter (or dark)- at the time of detection, melanomas are typically larger than the size of a pencil eraser (approximately 6mm, or ¼ inch) in diameter.

  • E: Evolving- any change in size, shape, color, or elevation of the mole should be of concern.

  • Tanning beds are classified in the same category as tobacco, asbestos, and arsenic

  • Average tanning bed gives 2-10 times more UVA radiation than the sun

  • Using tanning beds before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma by 75%

  • UV radiation from indoor tanning is completely avoidable

  • Outdoor sporting events

  • Outdoor water activities (ie. surfing, canoeing, paddleboarding, waterskiing, boating etc.)

  • Skiing

  • Yes, you can get burnt in the dead of winter! The sun’s harmful rays reflect off of the snow directly to your exposed skin

  • Fishing

  • Hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking

  • Light skin

  • Large number of moles

  • Blue or green eyes

  • Blonde or red hair

  • Personal or family history

  • Sun exposure

  • History of sunburns, early life

  • History of indoor tanning

  • Seek shade

  • Wear protective clothing - long sleeves and pants, UV protective clothing, or denim, hats with wide brims, and sunglasses

  • Sunscreen

    • Broad spectrum UVA and UVB, SPF 30 or higher

    • Reapplication is necessary every 2 hours, especially after swimming, sweating, or toweling off

Sources of Information used on this Page:

  1. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.asds.net/skin-experts/skin-cancer/skin-cancer-myths.
  2. Melanoma Research Foundation. (2019). Retrieved from https://melanoma.org/
  3. Skin Cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm. Published 2014. Accessed July 11, 2016.
  4. Skin Cancer Foundation. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.skincancer.org/.
  5. Tanning. Skin Cancer Foundation. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/tanning. Published 2016. Accessed February 14, 2017.

Personal Statements

"This past year, I have enjoyed being an intern for the Skin Smart Campus Initiative on the campus of Carroll College. I have worked with leaders from Carroll, the local community of Helena, and across the nation to educate others on the harmful effects of UV ray exposure and the unavoidable, long-lasting consequences. We have provided information about sun safety and skin cancer prevention to our peers and worldwide through social media outlets. Our goal has been to not only prevent a few sunburns, but prevent a long, expensive, and potentially fatal battle with skin cancer. Through this internship I have also learned to love the skin that I am in, no matter the shade; and try to promote this as well. I have also learned skills through this internship that I will carry with me into my professional career in medicine, potentially in the field of dermatology. I am thankful for this opportunity and experience! I am excited for the growth and continuation of this program on the campus of Carroll College." - Courtney Schroeder

"For me, this internship is much more than checking off a box and getting a few credits. Skin cancer is something that has had a huge impact on my life and has been the reason I feel so passionate about continuing to educate and provide materials and support programs that promote skin safety. My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 malignant melanoma, she essentially had a 5% chance of survival and somehow she did! She was really good about protecting her skin and wearing sunscreen as she got older. However, when she was a young adult and in college, she constantly exposed herself to the harsh UV rays of the sun and didn’t wear sunscreen. She sustained damage that did not show itself until she was well into adulthood. It is for all of these reasons that I think it’s crucial to have a program on our college campus to remind us why it is so important to simply wear sunscreen and protect ourselves from the sun and other UV rays as much as possible. I think we tend to forget how bad skin cancer can get and how important it is to protect yourself especially at this age, when we are most susceptible. Ultimately, the goal of this internship is to remind, inform, and protect everyone on campus as well as reaching out to the community to ensure that everyone has all the facts about sun safety and skin cancer. If we can at least be a reminder for people to wear and reapply sunscreen, or provide it so you don’t have an excuse not to wear it, then we are reaching our goal." - Karissa Dykstra