Dr. Charles Gropper examines common myths and uncovers the truth about sun safety.
Myth #1: It’s a cloudy day, so I don’t need to worry about applying any sunscreen.
Fact: Even on cloudy days, up to 80% of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays can affect the skin. These days can even be more dangerous because people often don’t feel the heat from the sun and don’t cover up or use sunscreen as they normally would.
Myth #2: I’m dark-skinned, so I really don’t need to worry about the sun.
Fact: Dark-skinned people may be at less of a risk than those who are fair-skinned, but anyone can get skin cancer.
Myth #3: If I don’t lie on the beach, I’m safe from the sun.
Fact: The majority of patients who develop melanoma are not people who spend a lot of time at the beach. They may be outside playing soccer, basketball, or other sports.
Myth #4: As long as I don’t have any spots on my body that are dark and have changed, I have nothing to worry about.
Fact: A very small, harmless-looking and lightly colored spot may be a warning sign for melanoma – and, they can appear anywhere. It is strongly suggested that people see a dermatologist for annual checkups, and make an appointment right away for any spot that doesn’t have an explanation.
Myth #5: Teens don’t have to worry about sun exposure.
Fact: Teens are at higher risk than middle-aged adults and are at risk of getting those sunburns that are risk factors for skin cancer.
Dr. Charles Gropper is a dermatologist at St. Barnabas Hospital.