Skin Cancer Myths and Prevention
With the summer sun blazing, more people find themselves outdoors enjoying the longer days and warmer temperatures. Increased outdoor activity means increased opportunities to damage your skin by enjoying the sun too much. Using protective sunscreen isn’t the only way to arm oneself against the sun’s damaging rays.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about tanning, so it is important to separate fact from fiction.
The following myths were compiled by the Skin Cancer Foundation:
- Tanning salons are safer than tanning outdoors. When compared to people who have never tanned indoors, indoor tanners have a higher risk of all forms of skin cancer. Frequent tanners using new high-pressure sunlamps may receive as much as 12 times the annual ultraviolet A (UVA) dose they receive from sun exposure.
- You can’t get sun damage on a cloudy day. Just because you can’t see your shadow doesn’t mean you’re safe from the sun’s damaging rays. Up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate through clouds and fog.
- A “base tan” protects your skin from sunburn. There is no such thing as a safe or protective tan. Actually, any tan at all is a sign of skin damage. A tan is the skin’s attempt to repair sun damage and prevent further injury. However, these imperfect repairs can cause gene defects that can lead to skin cancer.
- Windows protect us from the ultraviolet rays. While glass does block most UVB rays, UVA radiation can get through, which means even indoors or in a car with the windows up, the sun can still get to your skin.
Ways to Prevent Skin Damage
There are several different ways to prevent sun damage. The sun is most powerful between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. During these times it is important to follow these guidelines:
- Seek shade.
- Cover up skin with clothing and large brimmed hats.
- Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Examine your skin once a month for any unusual sun spots or markings.
Drexel Dermatology offers comprehensive services for all skin care conditions and concerns. These conditions include skin cancer, moles and birthmarks, as well as cosmetic and pediatric dermatology. To schedule an appointment with a Drexel dermatologist, you can visit www.DrexelMedicine.org or call 1-866-DREXEL2 (373-9352).