Here’s everything you need to know to protect your skin from aging and from skin cancer.
Myth: Tanning at a salon is safer than outdoor tanning
Fact: Indoor tanners have a higher risk of skin cancer that those who have never tanned indoors. There is growing evidence that tanning beds can increase the risk of developing melanoma.
Myth: The sun is the best way to get vitamin D
Fact: Our bodies produce Vitamin D with a limited amount of sun exposure (5 minutes daily for a Caucasian at noon in the summer). Sun exposure beyond that can break down vitamin D and increase the risk of skin cancer and skin aging. The safest way to get vitamin D is through diet and supplements.
Myth: People of color do not get skin cancer
Fact: People of color have a lower risk of skin cancer than their fair skinned friends, but they have a higher risk of dying from it. The rates of melanoma, the most dangerous skin cancer, are on the rise. In the US, Hispanics and African-Americans present to physicians with more advanced cases of melanoma. Whatever your skin color, protect yourself, perform regular skin self-exams and see a dermatologist if you have a new or changing skin growth.
Myth: Windows protect us from UV rays
Fact: Window glass can block most UVB rays, but not UVA rays. Even in a car you can still tan or burn. In fact, in sunny climates, individuals that drive a long distance to work have more sun damage and skin cancer on the left side of the face.
Myth: Teens and young adults don’t have to worry about skin cancer. It only affects older adults.
Fact: Melanoma is the most common form of cancer in those aged 25-29. And, the rate is increasing faster in women ages 15-29 than in men. The melanoma increase in younger women is likely due to use of tanning beds. Those at risk should perform regular skin self-exams and see a dermatologist right away if there is a changing mole.
Myth: You don’t need to wear sunscreen on a cloudy day
Fact: Even under cloud cover, it is possible to get sunburned and harm your skin and eyes. Sun protection is important on a cloudy day.
Myth: Suncreen with SPF 30 is all the protection you need; anything higher will not make a difference
Fact: While SPF 30 is adequate if enough sunscreen is applied, it may only provide SPF 15 if you under-apply by half. It takes a shot glass full to cover your body and 1 tablespoon for your face. Higher SPF sunscreens, 50 or more, may increase sun protection by 5%. That can make a difference if you are doing sports in midday sun. If you are engaged in water sports, it is equally important to use a product that is water-resistant and to reapply at least every hour and a half.