In case you missed it, The Doctors recently talked about tanning myths – an important topic not just for the summer, but for any time you expose your skin to UV light. You may already know some of these, but they are worth repeating – here are their top five tanning myths:
Myth #1 – Salon tanning is safer than sunbathing:
Not true. Hopefully the message about tanning beds is loud and clear – they are dangerous! The Doctors agree. Some sunlamps emit 12 times more UVA than the sun, and the American Academy of Dermatology reports that indoor tanners are 75% more likely to cause melanoma. In fact there is a troubling rise in cases of Melanoma among adolescents ages 15 to 19 because of indoor tanning. To counteract this, the FDA has proposed stricter regulations for tanning beds and devices and is revamping their warnings. Read more about indoor tanning in our article called Timeline of a Tan
Not true. While melanomas are more likely to appear on sun-exposed areas like your face, neck, back and legs, they can develop on other parts of the body – even those parts that never see the sun like the soles of your feet, palms of your hands and other unexposed areas. While melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer, it is almost always curable when it’s found early. Self-exams and annual doctor check-ups that include a full body check are critical. Knowing your skin and noticing small changes to moles, freckles and other discolorations is also key. Find out what to look for and know your ABCD and E’s. What’s that? Read more about it in this article on Melanoma
Myth #3 – Sunscreen is all you need:
Not true. A broad-spectrum sunscreen (provides UVA/UVB protection) is a critical part of daily sun protection, but protective clothing, hats and sunglasses are just as important. If you plan on swimming or working out, make sure your sunscreen in water-resistant and is SPF 30 or higher. Then read the label and follow the directions. New FDA guidelines make it clear that you need to reapply sunscreen every 80 minutes or so, and definitely after swimming or sweating, to be effective. Sun protective clothing is readily available and will not only protect your skin from harmful rays, some fabrics are engineered to keep you cool as well.
Myth #4 – A base tan protects your skin from sunburn:
Not true. By definition a tan is an indication that the skin has been damaged. There is no such thing as a ‘safe tan’ so developing a base-tan to avoid sunburn is just a myth. What makes this myth worse is this: According to the Melanoma Research Foundation, those who believe that a base-tan will protect the skin from sunburn actually spend more time in the sun with less sun protection than they might normally use – further increasing the odds of skin damage and Melanoma.
Myth #5 – Only fair-skinned people are at risk for developing Melanoma:
Not true. What is true is that more light skinned and fair people develop Melanoma than dark skinned people. And it’s also true that those with blonde or red hair and light eyes are at even higher risk. We discussed this in our article on Melanoma Risk for Redheads. That’s not to say that those with darker skin are not at risk for developing Melanoma, they are. Moreover, darker skinned people tend to be at a higher risk of death from skin cancer, because the spots are less noticeable and are not usually detected early.