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Common Myths About Sun Damage You Shouldn’t Buy Into

man itching With the arrival of warmer weather, people start to spend more and more time outdoors enjoying the sun. You might have plenty of family summer activities planned, including trips to the beach, warm-weather vacations, days at the zoo, and time camping and exploring. During these days outdoors, you should do everything you can to protect your skin. Unfortunately, people fail to protect their skin because of misinformation or misunderstandings about the sun and skin damage. Here are some common myths about sun damage that you should not believe. Instead, keep your skin healthy by choosing the right protection on a daily basis.
  1. Base Tans Provide Protection From Sun Damage
You might hear about people visiting a tanning salon or spending a lot of time outside to develop a base tan and prevent sunburns. The base tan is your biological reaction to help protect your skin in the future, but this protection is minimal and insufficient. The reality is that the darker color your skin develops after exposure to UV light (in a tanning bed or in direct sunlight) is the body’s reaction to sun damage in the first place. When you get darker and darker, it means your skin has gotten more and more damage from the light. A base tan might keep you from getting a painful sunburn, but the long-term damage to your skin is permanent. You increase your risk of skin cancer from any sort of tanning.
  1. You Only Need Sunscreen When It Is Sunny
Sunny days help remind people of the need for sunscreen, but cloudy days can be just as dangerous. You might not feel the heat of the sun on your shoulders, but you could still see a sunburn later in the day. Why is that? The UV light from the sun still shines through the clouds. Sometimes, the damaging rays can be amplified by the cloud cover, like a mirror might amplify the light in a room. Always wear sunscreen when spending the day outside.
  1. Waterproof Sunscreen Lasts All Day
You might be diligent about putting on sunscreen before hitting the beach or spending the day at the local outdoor pool, but you can’t just set and forget sunscreen. Even waterproof sunscreens wear off. They provide protection while you are in the water, but after you get out and dry off, you need to put on a new coat of sunscreen. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen after being in the sun for more than a few hours. Apply it even more often if you do hard work that causes you to sweat, such as when you go on a long run. People who work in the sun, especially at a higher elevation (like on the roof), should apply high-SPF sunscreen even more frequently.
  1. Only Older People Need to Worry About Sun Protection
Young people might not take the risk of sun exposure seriously. Many teenagers and young adults like to lie out in the sun to get a tan, thinking that sunscreen and hats are for old people and that young skin is more durable and heals better. All people have a risk if they get burned or severely tanned from the sun, but sunburns and tans in childhood actually increase your risk of melanoma later in life. Also, excessive sun exposure at a young age is what causes your skin to look older sooner. You will sacrifice your youthful look in the years to come in pursuit of skin that looks tanner now. For more information on sun protection and skin repair, contact us at East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC.

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