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Four Myths of Summer Sun Safety Debunked

July 20, 2022

Blessed with plentiful sunshine, it’s no wonder that Texans love the outdoors. Summertime means lounging by the pool, making a splash at the water park, jet skiing at the lake, tubing a river, or beach vacations on the Texas coast. The one constant with these activities? The sun.

Spending time outside is great fun, but not without risk. It is important to be aware of the potentially harmful effects of sun exposure. In 2022, an estimated 4,838 cases of melanoma are expected to be diagnosed in Texas. Protecting your skin is about more than just applying sunscreen. Let’s debunk four myths about sun exposure and skin cancer so you can spend your time in the sun safely.

Myth 1: Skin cancer only affects those with fair or lighter skin.

Fact: Everyone is at risk for skin cancer and should take precautions when spending time outdoors. People with fair skin have a higher chance of developing skin cancer, especially those with freckles, blue or green eyes, and blond, red, or light brown hair. Melanoma is less frequently diagnosed among people who are Black, Hispanic, or Asian. When found, it is often in the late stages.

Myth 2: If the sun is not out, there is no risk of harm from the sun’s rays.

Fact: The sun constantly produces ultraviolet rays that can penetrate clouds and harm your skin — even on overcast or cooler days. Therefore, it is just as important to wear sunscreen as you would on sunny days. When you are out enjoying the sunshine, keep in mind that UV rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Myth 3: You only need to apply sunscreen once a day for proper protection.

Fact: Sunscreen is effective for a limited amount of time before reapplying is necessary. You should reapply sunscreen every two hours or according to the directions on the product label. Sunscreen should always be reapplied after swimming or participating in any activity that causes perspiration. Water- resistant sunscreens need to be reapplied every 40 or 80 minutes, according to the product label.

Myth 4: All sunscreens provide proper protection from the sun.

Fact: Experts recommend people use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, or a water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. If you plan to spend any time outside, you should always reapply sunscreen and wear protective items such as hats, sunglasses, and other tightly woven clothing to cover areas of the body that will be exposed to the sun.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.