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Are You at Risk of Skin Cancer? Read about Early Signs of Skin Cancer

There are many skin cancer myths surrounding the sun and its effects on your skin. Here are some facts to help you understand the truth about sun exposure and your risk of skin cancer.

Myth #1 – I do not tan. I just try to get to get some base color which helps me prevent burning on vacation.

Fact – Tanning is tanning! It has cumulative effects over time, so whether you do 30 minutes a day over time or 1 hour every month for a year, the damage is adding up. It still puts you at risk for damage to your skin and at risk of skin cancer.

Myth #2 – I use sunscreen with a higher sun protection factor (SPF) on my face than I use on my body because it is more likely to get burned.

Fact – All areas of your skin, as well as your eyes, can be damaged by the sun’s harmful UV rays. While light-skinned people are much more likely to have sun damage, darker-skinned people, including African-Americans and Hispanic Americans, can also be affected. Anytime you are going to be exposed to the sun, use a generous amount of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 (which filters out 97% of UV rays).

Myth #3 – If I do a good job applying sunscreen as soon as I go out in the sun, I don’t have to put on more later.

Fact – In order to fully protect your skin, you must reapply your sunscreen at least every 2 hours, and more often if you are going to be in the water or sweating. Check the label on your sunscreen for specific instructions for use.

Myth #4 – I should sun at least 3 times per week for 15 minutes without sunscreen for Vitamin D because it is important to my health.

Fact – According to the American Dermatology Association, you should never go out in the sun without using sunscreen because it can put you at risk of skin cancer. You can get additional vitamin D if needed through food and vitamin supplements.

Myth #5 – Since I spend most of my time in my car or at my desk, I really do not need sunscreen.

Fact – Harmful UV rays can and do come through the windows of your office and car. Dermatologists see many patients with left-sided sun cancer from sun exposure while driving. Tint on windows will block out some of the rays, but it is also recommended that you use a moisturizer with a built-in SPF on a daily basis.

Myth #6 – I should never go outside because I am afraid I will get skin cancer.

Fact – It is possible to go overboard with avoiding sun exposure, and it can significantly lower the quality of your life. In some cases it can even cause marital problems because of one spouse’s complete sun paranoia. You can enjoy life indoors and out as long as you use common sense, take proper precautions and employ routine skin exams for signs of skin cancer.

Myth #7 – I'm young so I don't need to worry about skin cancer. When I am older I will use sunscreen because skin cancer only happens when you are older.

Fact – Sun damage begins the moment you get in the sun, no matter what your age. Avoid exposure without sunscreen, and also avoid tanning beds.

You should check your skin regularly for changes or abnormalities. If you notice anything you think might be signs of skin cancer, contact your doctor right away.

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