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Part 2: 5 Common Misconceptions About Skin Cancer

June 04, 2016

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., but there are still so many misconceptions about how to prevent it. From how often and when to apply sunscreen to understanding the dangers of prolonged sun exposure, many people aren’t aware of their skin cancer risks.

Valid medical information can help with prevention. In that vein, we’ve compiled a list of

five of the most common myths about skin cancer, along with accurate facts that can help protect your health.

Myth #1: All Sunscreen Lotions are the Same

Even if you use an SPF 50 sunscreen, you still need more protection from sun exposure. SPF—a sunscreen’s sun protection factor—protects only against UVB rays, but you also need protection from UVA rays. You should use a broad spectrum sunscreen that provides sun protection for both UVA and UVB rays.  

Myth #2: You Should Only Apply Sunscreen When in the Sun

This is probably one of the most common skin cancer misconceptions. While glass does block UVB rays, which cause sunburn, you can still be exposed to UVA radiation even when you’re indoors. UVA rays cause your skin to prematurely age and develop sun spots and wrinkles. With sunscreen, it’s better safe than sorry, so consider using a moisturizer with broad spectrum protection if you experience a great deal of sun exposure through windows while indoors. That way you’ll have some protection from sun exposure, even if you work inside an office all day.

Myth #3: A Long Exposure in the Sun Without a Sunburn is Worse Than Staying a Short Time With a Sunburn

Though sunlight can help the body maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D, most people only need minimal sun exposure to achieve this. Even if you’re out in the sun for a short time, you can develop sunburn, an indication of skin damage and a sign of increased risk for developing future skin cancer. Sunburn equates to sun damage, and that can happen no matter how long it takes to experience sunburn. Always wear sunscreen and protective clothing, and if possible, limit the amount of time you spend in direct sunlight.

Myth #4: Sunburns cannot occur on a cloudy or foggy day

UVA rays are always present, even when it may not be sunny outside. Research has shown that up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can penetrate through clouds and fogs. Even in Florida, where there’s abundant sunshine year round, cloudy days aren’t an opportunity to be lax with sun protection. Always protect yourself from sun exposure, regardless of what the forecast says.

Myth #5: If you have a dark complexion, you can’t get a skin cancer

This is probably the most dangerous skin cancer myth. Though people of color are less likely to get skin cancer than Caucasians, they are still susceptible to it. According to SkinCancer.org, acral lentiginous melanoma is more common among darker-skinned people, and according to one recent study, skin cancer rates among Hispanics increased by 19 percent from 1992 to 2008.

Regardless of complexion, every person should practice sun safety techniques such as wearing sunscreen, protective clothing and limiting sun exposure.

If you have any questions about skin cancer or would like to talk to a medical professional, contact us today. We’re here to help and give you accurate information about skin cancer and potential treatments.

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