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Over 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year in the U.S. One of the best protection against skin cancer is by covering up in the sun and regularly applying sunscreen. Unfortunately, there are dozens of sunscreens to choose from and everyone has a different idea about what’s good for your skin. Skip looking for answers in magazines and contact your dermatologist.
You Don’t Need Sunscreen on Cloudy Days
False. Whether the sun is visible or hiding behind clouds, the ultraviolet A and B rays (UVA and UVB) still penetrate the clouds and your skin. Yes, the clouds reduce some, but only about 25% and if you go outside without protection, 75% is still infiltrating your skin. The best answer, according to Southlake, TX, dermatologists is to never skip or skimp on the sunscreen when heading outside.
Additionally, make sure to add protective clothing, including sunglasses to protect your eyes and a hat to protect your scalp. Sun can penetrate your skin, which is why you’ve probably felt a little sore after a day in the sun without that hat. If you’re concerned about sun damage to your scalp, make an appointment with your local dermatologist.
Having a Tan Protects Your Skin Enough
False again. In fact, this one is scary because that tan is your body’s response to UVA and UVB exposure. The sun has already damaged your skin and by heading outside again without sunscreen, it’s going to increase the damage and your risk of developing skin cancer. Additionally, some people believe that heading to a tanning booth for a baseline tan can add another layer of protection. Instead of helping your skin, taking these steps can cause additional harm. If you have questions about tanning booths and their safety, speak with a dermatologist about the damage these devices can do to your skin.
Naturally Dark Skin Protects Your Skin from the Sun
The pigment of your skin doesn’t protect you from cancer. Whether you have a light or dark complexion, the only way to prevent skin damage and cancer is to cover it up, both with a quality sunscreen and with clothing.
You Don’t Need to Put Sunscreen Everywhere
Many people believe that you can’t get skin cancer in areas that aren’t exposed to the sun. However, this is another false statement. If you notice an area of your body with an unusual rash, even if it’s somewhere you’d never think about spreading a layer of sunscreen, such as your armpits or the soles of your feet, contact your Southlake, TX, dermatologist for the next available appointment. The most successful path to stopping cancer is a prompt diagnosis and beginning treatment as soon as possible.
Swimming or Water Protects You from the Sun
Actually, the opposite is true. UVB rays penetrate water, which means even if you’re up to your neck in a pool, lake, or the ocean, you’re still being exposed. Plus, water reflects sunlight, increasing your exposure to UV rays. Always apply sunscreen before and after getting out of the water, even if the brand is water-resistant. For questions about water-resistant sunscreens and how effective they are, speak with your Southlake, TX, dermatologist.
You Can’t Tan with Sunscreen
Even if you apply sunscreen regularly throughout the day, the sun will still penetrate your skin and leave a tan. But, consider applying a fake, spray tan instead. It looks great, isn’t painful, is safe, and best of all, a spray tan won’t increase your chances of skin cancer (as long as you continue to wear a sunscreen with a high SPF.)
If you’re concerned about the safety of spray tanning products, make an appointment to speak with a Southlake, TX, dermatologist. He or she can recommend products that are safe and help you find the right sunscreen and other skincare products to protect and care for your skin. For the best results, look for a sunscreen that includes all of these ingredients for full-spectrum protection.
All Sunscreens Are the Same
Just like the prices vary, the ingredients, effectiveness, and safety of the products are different. Always check the active ingredients before purchasing or applying sunscreen. For example, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and ecamsule filter out UVA and UVB rays while avobenzone blocks the sun. Additionally, these come in different SPFs, varying from 15 to over 50. For best results, always use the highest SPF.
You Don’t Need to Reapply Sunscreen
This is a big mistake people make that causes sunburns and can lead to skin cancer. Always reapply sunscreen every two to four hours and more often if you’re in the water or competing in sports or other activities that increase sweat and reduce the effectiveness of the sunscreen. No matter how high the SPF is, there are no sunscreens that last all day long. Also, always check the expiration date on your products. If it’s past the date, toss it and buy a new bottle. For questions about the safety of sun care and sunscreens, contact your dermatologist for a consultation.
If You Always Wear Sunscreen, You’ll Never Get Skin Cancer
Covering up and wearing sunscreen is the best way to prevent skin cancer. However, nothing is 100% full proof. However, you can reduce the chances of developing skin cancer by wearing sunglasses, loose protective clothing, and hats when you’re in the sun and staying out of the sun during peak hours. If you can avoid outdoor activities, even on cloudy days between 10 am and 1 pm, it’s possible to reduce exposure and your risk of skin cancer.
However, you also need to consider other factors, such as family history. If you are concerned about your chances of developing skin cancer, it’s important to speak to your primary care doctor and keep regular checkups with your dermatologist.