Debunking Sun Safety Myths: Dispelling Common Misconceptions about Sun Protection
Summertime is here! We all relish the warmth of the sun on our skin and the long, radiant days of sunshine. It's the perfect season for engaging in our favorite outdoor activities like water sports, cycling, picnics, and more.
However, as enticing as the sun may be, it's crucial to recognize the risks it poses to you and your family. Did you know that in the United States alone, 3.5 million skin cancer cases are diagnosed yearly?
The majority of skin cancers, around 95%, are attributed to long-term exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays, specifically squamous cell cancer and basal cell cancer. Shockingly, even as little as 15 minutes of UV exposure can cause severe skin damage.
You might think that applying sunscreen is the solution, but it's important to note that sunscreens do not provide complete protection against all types of UV damage. High-energy UVB rays can burn the skin, resulting in visible redness. On the other hand, UVA rays do not cause immediate redness but penetrate the skin tissue deeply, generating free radicals that harm your skin's DNA, accelerate aging, and increase the risk of skin cancer.
Before you rush to purchase good sunscreen, it's essential to debunk some sun-safety myths and ensure you are well-informed.
Common Misconceptions about Sun Protection
1. High SPFs Provide More Protection
Many people think that buying sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 100 provides thrice sun protection if compared to an SPF of 30. However, a sunscreen of SPF 30 can block 97% of the sun rays, and higher SPFs can protect only 1 or 2 percent more.
No sunscreen protects your skin from sun rays 100%. Moreover, the SPF does not impact the time sunscreen protects you; the duration applied for both high and low SPFs is not more than two hours.
2. Tanned Skin is a Sign of a Healthy Body
Tanning means your skin is trying to fight against sun damage. It has nothing to do with your health. Suppose you experience any redness or pink color on your skin, tenderness, or itching after being in the sun, even if your skin is raw or blistered.
In that case, it's a clear sign that the sun has penetrated into the skin and damaged genetic material (DNA). This type of damage can build gradually and cause skin cancer.
3. Cloudy Days Cannot Cause Sunburn
This is also a myth among millions of people globally. Sun damage happens because of UV radiation and not temperature fluctuation. A cooler or overcast day in summer can have similar levels of UV impact to a warm, sunny day. If it's windy and you get a sunburn, it's a sunburn, and no such thing is called "windburn."
4. Any Kind of Clothing will Block the Sun Rays
The kind of clothing actually matters when it comes to sun safety. Dark and bright colors absorb more UV rays than white or pastel shades. Also, wearing heavy, dense fabrics with tight weaves offers better protection than thin, lightweight fabrics with loose weaves. For instance, a white T-shirt will not offer any defense; if it's wet, expect no protection.
Several fabrics provide 100% protection and absorbent, which makes them an ideal choice for summer. Always look for UPF designation on clothing labels. The numbers will indicate what fraction of the sun's UV rays penetrate the fabric. A UPF of 30 to 40 offers good protection, while a UPF of 50+ is excellent in terms of protection.
5. Sunscreen Application Causes Vitamin D Deficiency
Human skin exposed to sunlight manufactures vitamin D. The sun's UVB rays interact with a protein in the skin, transforming it into vitamin D3, an active form of vitamin D. It is the major aspect for regulating the calcium and phosphate in your body, vital nutrients needed to keep your bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.
So, applying sunscreen well still allows 2 to 3 percent of the sun's UVB to reach your skin, and the body only needs a little sun exposure to produce vitamin D.
6. Sunscreen is Not Required for Dark-Colored Skin
Dark-colored skin will not burn more easily than light-colored skin, but it can still lead to skin damage and burn with excessive exposure. According to research by The American Academy of Dermatology, every skin tone has to wear sunscreen because anyone can have skin cancer, regardless of age, gender, or race.
7. Car Window Protects the Skin from Sun Rays
Un-tinted glass is commonly used in car windows, which has the power to block the transmission of UV radiation. However, it doesn't completely block UV rays. So, you will still get burnt if you spend long hours in the car to an un-tinted window side.
Everyone should practice sun-safe behavior to avoid potentially deadly skin cancer regardless of skin color, age, or lifestyle. If you plan to go outdoors, remember to wear sunscreen, protective clothing and be in the shade wherever possible.
Also, you can visit a CVMed PRO dermatologist for regular skin screenings to identify abnormal sun spots or growths, if any. Our highly experienced physicians have years of experience and can understand the root cause of any health issue. For more information, schedule an appointment today.
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