The sun-kissed glow you've always admired might be raising your risk for one of the deadliest types of cancer in the world: skin cancer. Keep yourself educated by debunking the following common misconceptions.
One of the biggest myths is that people who tan effortlessly without burning or redness are unlikely to get skin cancer. You may feel like your skin is not sensitive, but just because you can’t feel it doesn’t mean it’s not there, damaging your skin.
One bad sunburn before you turn 18 doubles your risk of developing melanoma.
Tanning, whether you get it from sun exposure or indoor tanning, is always an indication of skin damage. It’s the skin’s response to injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Skin cells hint that they’ve become damaged by producing an additional skin pigment called melanin.
False. In fact, tanning beds are more dangerous than natural sun exposure as they emit the same harmful UV rays as the sun but in greater amounts. Joslyn M. Albright, MD, concludes that a visit to an indoor tanning salon before the age of 35 can increase your risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, by more than 50%.
As a result of these supporting studies, researchers urge policymakers to enforce restrictions on the indoor tanning industry. If you feel like you're overdoing your tanning routine, get your skin checked in a skin cancer clinic near you.
No one is immune to skin cancer. While skin cancer develops more frequently in fair-skinned people, it spares no one, including dark-skinned folks. In fact, skin cancers in people of color tend to be diagnosed later, at a more advanced stage.
“Don’t be afraid to step out in the sun. Vitamin D is good for you.”
While it’s true that the sun provides Vitamin D, an essential nutrient, you don’t have to bake in the sun and increase your risk of skin cancer to stay healthy. You can get your daily dose of Vitamin D from food fortified with vitamin D, including fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese. You may also take Vitamin D food supplements.
While using SPF 50 on a hot day does give you better protection than SPF 10, sun protection doesn’t increase dramatically with the SPF number. It’s about how regularly and generously you apply and reapply sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum and water-resistant sunscreen with at least an SPF 30.
Apply it liberally 30 minutes before going outdoors, and reapply it after 2 hours. Your best protection is to stay out of the sun, especially during peak hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Aside from indoor tanning beds, there are other ways you can get skin cancer that doesn’t involve prolonged sun exposure. You have increased risk if you have a family history of skin cancer and other genetic factors, aging, and weakened immune system. Risk is also higher if you have fair skin, freckles, and multiple and/or unusual moles.
Just because you can’t see and feel the sun doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s present year-round, so don’t ease up on your sunscreen even in the winter or rainy days.
The same goes for cloudy days. You should continue protecting your skin from harmful UV rays when it’s not warm or sunny since they can still stream right through the clouds and cause skin damage.
Believe it or not, you can get skin cancer in the irises of your eyes. When your eyes get sunburned, they can develop ocular melanoma, a type of cancer which forms in cells that produce pigment in or around your eyes.
Amp up your protection by investing in UV-blocking sunglasses and getting regular eye checkups. Don’t ignore symptoms like red eyes, grit feeling in your eyes, excessive tearing, extreme sensitivity to light, and strange new spots in your irises or a change in their color.
No one is immune to skin cancer – even the toughest men in the world. Men, especially fair-skinned young adult men are about twice as likely to die of melanoma as females of the same category. The lack of knowledge and skincare neglect are the major reasons why skin cancer strikes men harder.
It's not “just” skin cancer. It’s not like other skin diseases. It’s not something-you-can-simply-cut-out-and-you’ll-be-fine type of condition. Skin cancer is something you need to catch fast before it spreads. Skin is the largest organ, and skin cancer can spread rapidly to vital organs like your liver, lungs, and brain.
The good news is most skin cancer can be prevented by dispelling the myths associated with it, following safety guidelines, and visiting skin cancer clinics for skin checks and more information.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a resident writer for Géniale Skin Cancer Clinic, a medical aesthetic and skin cancer institute, providing top of the line services from industry-leading skin cancer treatments to innovative medical aesthetic procedures. She writes articles focusing on cosmetic, medical, and surgical care, and wellness.