Survey: Many don’t understand how to protect themselves from sun damage

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Common myths about sunscreen:, Debunked.Sunscreen is your best defenseagainst sun-damaged skin. .But there are plenty of misconceptionsabout the most effective way to use sunscreen. .Here are sixcommon mythsabout sunscreen.1. MYTH: You’re using enough sunscreen, Most people apply only 25-50% ofthe recommended amount of sunscreen.2. MYTH: Sunscreen can bewaterproof or sweat-proof, Although it may not wash off as easily, sunscreencan only be classified as water-resistant. .3. MYTH: Makeup with sunscreen is enough, The SPF in cosmetics may not be more than 30 or isbroad-spectrum, meaning it's not enough protection.4. MYTH: Sunblock andsunscreen are the same thing, Sunblock reflects the sun’s UV rayswhile sunscreen chemically filters them. .5. MYTH: Sunscreen never expires, Sunscreen bottles have a visible expiration datethat should be followed for maximum effectiveness.6. MYTH: You should wearsunscreen only in the summer, UVA and UVB rays are present wheneverthe sun is out, even in the winter.

63% said they got a tan last year, which isn’t healthy

Although more Americans than ever say protecting their skin from the sun is important, a recent survey reveals many aren’t doing a good job at it.

Of the more than 1,000 U.S. adults who responded to the American Academy of Dermatology’s survey, 62% gave themselves an overall grade of “excellent” or “good” for sun protection. However, 63% also said they got a tan in 2021, an increase of 9 percentage points from 2020, and 33% said they had a sunburn last year, an increase of 8 percentage points.

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“If you are getting a tan, you are definitely not doing a good job of protecting yourself from the sun,” said board-certified dermatologist and AAD president Mark D. Kaufmann MD, FAAD. “There is no such thing as a safe tan. Every time you tan or burn, you are also damaging the DNA in your skin. The more you damage your DNA, the greater your risk of getting skin cancer.”

The survey also revealed:

  • 67% believe SPF 30 offers twice as much protection as SPF 15, which is incorrect. According to the AAD, an SPF 15 filters out 93% of the sun’s UVB rays, while SPF 30 filters out 97%.
  • 65% say they often forget to reapply sunscreen
  • 43% are unaware that shade protects your skin from UV rays

AAD reports 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. According to the American Cancer Society, 108,480 people will develop skin cancer (excluding basal and squamous) this year, with 11,990 of those resulting in death.

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The academy has three suggestions to protect your skin:

  • Seek shade: The sun’s rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If your shadow appears to be shorter than you are, seek shade.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing: For more effective protection, choose clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) number on the label.
  • Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher: Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects you from both UVA and UVB rays.

“It’s great that 82% of respondents say protecting their skin from the sun is more important to them now than it was five years ago,” Kaufmann said. “However, it’s important that people use sun protection now so they can prevent premature skin aging and reduce their risk of skin cancer before they start seeing the damaging effects of the sun on their skin.”

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