Fall is here, but you still need sunscreen!


A touch of fall is in the air, but skin cancer from sun damage knows no season. We’ve all heard about the dangers of melanoma, and it’s well established that applying sunscreen is among the best ways to prevent it. Still, sunscreen myths persist.

Melanoma is caused by sun exposure, and though it’s one of the rarest forms of skin cancer, it’s also one of the deadliest, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Your risk of melanoma doubles if you’ve had more than five sunburns, research shows.

That’s why it’s important to protect your skin with sunscreen.

If you do suspect melanoma, check in with your doctor as soon as possible. When caught early, the 5-year survival rate is 98 percent.

Dr. Kristen Ahern, a St. Elizabeth dermatologist shared six common sunscreen myths and the truth behind them below.


People with darker skin don’t need sunscreen
All individuals, regardless of skin type, can benefit from and should use sunscreen. Even patients with darker skin types can get skin cancer!

If you wear SPF protective clothing you don’t need sunscreen
SPF protective clothing is a great addition to help protect a person from the sun. However, it typically does not cover all exposed skin, and a person should apply sunscreen to any exposed areas not covered by clothing.

Tanning beds are safer than the sun, so you don’t need to apply sunscreen
Many studies suggest that tanning bed use is associated with an increased risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, a potentially deadly type of skin cancer.

All sunscreens are the same
Sunscreens vary by the amount of SPF each contains, if they protect against UVA and/or UVB rays, and if they are water resistant. A person should look for a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, that offers broad-spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays), and that is water resistant, if you will be in water or sweating.

The higher the SPF the more protection you have
A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 blocks out about 97 percent of the sun’s UVB rays. Higher number SPFs block out slightly more UVB rays, but no sunscreen can block out 100 percent.

It is important to remember that a high SPF sunscreen lasts the same amount of time as a lower SPF sunscreen. All sunscreens should be re-applied after approximately 2 hours, and after being in the water or sweating heavily. You should also apply the same amount of sunscreen regardless of the SPF level. You should generously coat any skin not covered by clothing. On average this is about 1 ounce of sunscreen or enough to fill a shot glass.

You only need sunscreen during sunny summer days
This is not true. Ultraviolet rays from the sun still pass through the clouds and you can get burned even on a cloudy day in the fall.


For more information, or to speak with a dermatologist, visit stelizabeth.com.