With summer finally approaching, most of us are busy restocking on bathing suits, sandals and floppy hats. But once those wallets are out, let’s not forget to head to the nearest drug store and grab a few bottles of sunscreen as well.
As the bridge between “tights season” and “beach season,” and in an effort to help prevent more cases of the most prevalent cancer in the United States, May has been designated as Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
A lot of us make the human mistake of thinking we are immune to the damaging effects of sun exposure, but with over eight thousand patients diagnosed with Skin Cancer daily, in the US alone, it’s time we start heeding this very real danger and take measures to protect our skin.
The first step in staying healthy during the summer months is to familiarize yourself with the available information, and learning the truth behind 3 all too common misconceptions about Skin Cancer:
Only direct sunlight is dangerous to our skin
While most of us associate sunscreen with sand, the beach is certainly not the only place in which we are vulnerable to the hazardous affects of ultraviolet light, which can penetrate clouds and even the windows of your house. It is best to roll down the shades when you are going to be near a window for an extended period of time and to apply sunscreen before going for a drive on a sunny day.
Only light-skinned people are at risk
Though those of us with paler complexions are, in fact, most susceptible to skin damage via UV light, non-Caucasian individuals are by no means immune to Skin Cancer. This dangerous misconception not only causes darker people to neglect to properly protect their skin, but even results in misdiagnosis or delayed treatment at the hands of medical professionals, as was the case with Bob Marley, who tragically succumbed to Melanoma at the young age of 36. No matter your color, take some cover!
The SPF number doesn’t actually matter
I’ve personally heard a lot of friends dismiss the significance of the SPF number of their sunscreens, claiming that SPF 15 is actually the highest level of protection possible. While research is still being done in this area, experts strongly recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of 50 when you are planning to be exposed to the sun for a long period of time and an SPF of no lower than 30 for everyday use.
Unfortunately, those are only some of the dangerous skin cancer myths circulating in our world today. Many believe they are too old to contract skin cancer, some are convinced that the chemicals in sun screen pose risks that outweigh the benefits, and still others are sure that a face cream with SPF is enough to protect them. The truth is, every bit of exposed skin is vulnerable to sun damage and covering up is your only real guarantee.
Enjoy your summer, just make sure your skin does too!