Debunking the Most Common Misconceptions About Tanning and Proper Summer Skin Care

There are many misconceptions about tanning and proper skin care.  So, it’s important that you have the proper education when it comes to taking care of your skin.  Skin cancer is one of the most preventable diseases if you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the sun.

Here are a few misconceptions being addressed:

“A base tan protects you from getting burned and from harmful sun rays.” A base tan is only minimally effective in providing UV protection and the UVA light that creates this immediate tan from tanning beds accelerates photo aging (wrinkles and brown spots) dramatically. A tan is the first sign that skin has been damaged.

“Self-tanners and spray tans can be dangerous.”  They are absolutely safe and are in fact the recommended way to make your skin appear tan.

“The higher the SPF, the better.”  SPF 30 is 97% effective so sunscreen with much higher SPF is only minimally more effective.  The main issue dermatologists see is people don’t apply their sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure, don’t apply enough, and don’t reapply frequently enough (like every time you go in the water you need to reapply).  The recommended amount of sunscreen to use, head to toe, is the size of a shot glass.

“A cotton t-shirt will protect skin from sun burn.”  A big misconception.  Cotton t-shirts provide protection the equivalent of SPF6, and when wet, the protection decreases down to an SPF3.  Be sure to apply sunscreen first under your t-shirt.

“Skin cancer only affects older people.”  Due to the overexposure of the sun and tanning beds in their teenage years, melanoma is the second most common cancer in women ages 20-29*.

“It’s cloudy, I don’t have to wear any sunscreen.” Clouds only filter 20% of UV rays so even on the cloudiest of days, sunscreen is necessary.  So, no matter what the weatherman says, it is always in your best interest to apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before heading outdoors.

Although many skin cancers are caused by sun damage, some are not. Regardless, we recommend that everyone has a baseline evaluation done by a dermatologist to exam your skin and discuss ways to prevent skin cancer and sun damage.   

*National Cancer Society

Need an appointment to address your skin concerns?  Call (610) 288-2908 or schedule online.

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Dr. Daniel Shurman, M.D.
April 26, 2018