Health Minute: Sun Safety
As the weather starts to get warmer, we start to spend more time outside in the sun. While sunlight has many benefits, it’s important to prioritize skin health and understand the importance of sunscreen. Avni Jain, MD, family medicine physician with Adventist Medical Group, has joined us to discuss ways to keep your family safe in the sun!
Myth #1: A suntan's fine, as long as you don't burn.
Reality: While even one sunburn may double the chance of eventually developing melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer), your kids are still at risk even if they never burn. "The more sun you get, the more likely you are to develop certain skin cancers," says Martin Weinstock, M.D., chairman of the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Skin Cancer Advisory Group, no matter what your skin tone. "Any tan indicates damage to your skin."
Myth #2: A beach umbrella blocks the sun.
Reality: It's not foolproof. Sand reflects 17 percent of UV radiation, so you're still exposed, says Dr. Weinstock. Nevertheless, it's smart to stay in the shade when the sun's rays are high; just make sure you're also slathered with sunscreen.
Myth #3: Sun can't penetrate through windows.
Reality: Glass filters out only one kind of radiation — UVB rays. But UVA rays, which penetrate deeper, can still get through. That's why many adults have more freckles on their left side than their right — it's from UV exposure on that side through the car window when driving. If you're buying a new car, consider one with tinted windows, which keep out almost four times more UVA light than regular ones. You don't need to worry about putting on sunscreen when indoors unless you or your child spends most of your time near a window (for example, if your child's desk is right next to one).
Myth #4: If it's cool or cloudy outside, you don't need sunscreen.
Reality: According to the SCF, up to 80 percent of the sun's UV rays can pass through clouds. This is the reason people often end up with serious sunburns on overcast days if they've spent time outside with no sun protection. Even in the winter months, you need to beware: Snow can reflect up to 80 percent of UV rays, increasing exposure. This is especially true if your family's on a ski vacation — the higher your altitude, the greater your UV exposure.