Exposing Sun Safety Myths

May 10, 2018

Summer is right around the corner, which means more time outdoors enjoying the spring weather. But don’t forget the damage that can happen to your skin if it’s overexposed to the sun! One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. But the good news is, it’s highly preventable. Learn the difference between the facts and these myths:

Myth #1: The sun is strongest in the hottest part of the day.
  • UV rays are strongest when the sun is highest in the sky. This might not be when the temperature is at its highest point of the day. 
  • Try to stay out of the sun as much as possible from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the peak hours for UV radiation.
Myth #2: You can only burn in the middle of summer.
  • UV rays are strongest during the late spring and early summer in North America. 
Myth #3: Applying sunscreen once is enough.
  • Even if it says once a day on the label, all sunscreens should be re-applied regularly. Some rub, wash or sweat off more easily than others.
  • Put at least 1 ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) on 15 minutes before you go outside. Reapply every 80 minutes, more often when swimming or sweating.
Myth #4: Sunscreen lasts forever.
  • Some sunscreens include an expiration date —when they're no longer effective. Discard sunscreen that is past its date.
Myth #5: The higher the SPF, the better the protection.
  • The SPF on a sunscreen refers to the amount of protection the product offers from UVB rays or sunburns. Look for an SPF of at least 30.
  • Higher SPFs don’t add much in terms of protection and might encourage you to spend longer in the sun, leading to more damage.
Myth #6: You don't need sunscreen on a cloudy day.
  • Even on a cloudy day, UV radiation from the sun reaches the earth's surface. So make sure you use sunscreen every day that you’re outdoors.
Myth #7: The odd sunburn doesn’t make much difference.
  • One or more severe, blistering sunburns can increase your risk of melanoma.
  • The sun’s UV rays can damage unprotected skin in as little as 15 minutes, but it can take as long as 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure.
Myth #8: Tanning Booths are a safer way to tan.
  • There’s no such thing as a safe tan. UV radiation from tanning machines can cause skin cancers including melanoma.
  • People who begin indoor tanning in their teens or early adulthood have a higher risk of melanoma.
 Myth #9: Tanned skin is a sign of good health.
  • Tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your skin after time outside—whether sunburn or suntan—means damage from UV rays.
Myth #10: I need to get as much sun as possible to get enough vitamin D.
  • We all need a bit of sun to make vitamin D, but for most people brief, casual exposure to the sun is enough. There’s no need to sunbathe or risk sunburn.
To learn more about skin cancers, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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