There are many myths and misconceptions about sun protection and skin cancer. With Australia having one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, it is extremely important to get the facts right so we can all play it safe in the sun.
One of the most common sun protection misunderstandings is the belief that we only need to be aware of sun exposure during hot, sunny days. This is far from the truth. In fact, UV radiation – which causes sunburn – is not related to temperature. UV rays can penetrate clouds and become even stronger as they reflect off the bottom of cloud coverage. By checking the UV Ray Index every day, you can get a better idea of how much attention you need to pay to sun protection; any reading above three indicates a high risk of harm.
Another myth about skin cancer is that tanning, as opposed to burning, is not harmful to your skin. This is completely incorrect. Whilst people with olive or brown skin are less likely to develop skin cancerthan those with fair or pale skin, they are still at risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. Contrary to popular belief, a tan is not necessarily a sign of health or wellbeing; in fact, the skin browns to protect cells that the UV rays could otherwise damage.
Many people hold the misconception that certain cosmetics, make-up or fake tans act as a suitable replacement for sunscreen. Even cosmetics that contain SPF protection should never be seen as a replacement for sunscreen.These cosmetics only protect your skin for a very short amount of time and need to be reapplied frequently because the SPF quantities in these products are typically much lower than those in sunscreen.
Solariums are also a major cause of concern. People should not see them as an alternative or safer means of obtaining a tan – they are far from that. In fact, solariums transmit UV radiation that is three times the intensity of that emitted by the sun at its UV radiation peak (midday). People who use solariums are at a higher risk of developing melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer.
It is important to get the facts straight about skin cancer. For more information on skin cancer and sun protection, call Sun Doctors on 13SKIN (13-7546). Otherwise, head online to sundoctors.com.au and book your skin check appointment at a clinic near you.