Do I Really Need to Wear Sunscreen? A Specialist Responds

Do I Really Need to Wear Sunscreen? A Specialist Responds

So you think you don't need to wear sunscreen, eh? Here's SEVEN REASONS given to Dermatology Specialists and why they're common misconceptions.

Working as a Dermatology Nurse Practitioner I am given numerous reasons why patients don't wear sunscreen despite being told to make it a daily habit.

1. I don't need to use sunscreen because I don't spend a lot of time outside. My first question to them is, "How did you get to the office today?"  Sun exposure is not insignificant  in smaller doses and all these small exposures like going to the mailbox, walking your dog and yes even coming to your dermatology appointment can be linked to Squamous Cell Carcinoma.  Often, the worst sunburns occur when you don’t realize you’re going to be outside that long and are not prepared.

2. It was a cloudy day. This is also untrue. The harmful rays of the sun can still damage your skin on cloudy days and even cause sunburns and other long term damage to the skin.

3. I don't need to wear my sunscreen in the winter.  This is another common misconception. Sunscreen needs to be worn all year long even when it is snowing outside. In fact snow can act as a reflector and this increases your chance of sunburn.

4. I don't need to put more sunscreen on. I already applied it once today.  Applying sunscreen should be part of all of our daily habits but reapplying is just as important.  Sunscreen does not last forever on our bodies(that's why we have to apply it daily) but lots of things affect how often we should reapply and if we are not doing this we are damaging our skin.

5. I have a base tan so I don't need to apply sunscreen.  This one makes me cringe.  Anytime your skin changes color because of sun exposure you are causing damage to your skin and increasing your risk of developing skin cancer. Not to mention what you think looks so healthy now, will end up equating to a multitude of wrinkles premature aging.

6. I don't need to wear sunscreen because it's in my makeup. You should always apply a dedicated sunscreen before your makeup. Most people do not apply enough makeup to give themselves the amount of sun protection the makeup claims to provide.

7. Young people don't get as much skin cancer so I don't need to protect my skin until I get older. This is one of the things that is hardest to explain to young patients. The damaging rays from the sun may not always be visible until we are older but it does not mean that they are not already present.Melanoma is the number one most diagnosed cancer in women ages 25-29.

None of these above reasons are good enough reasons to not apply (or reapply) sunscreen. Protecting your skin should always be one of your first goals when you are planning an outdoor activity and one of the first things you put on every morning.  It’s never been easier with all the options available. You also have UPF clothing options to protect your skin. UPF clothing is great because once you put it on, it instantly protects your skin the whole time you’re wearing it. The only place you need to reapply sunscreen is the remaining exposed parts of your body, like your face and neck.It’s also specially engineered to protect your skin and be lightweight and breathable to be long wearing. Not all UPF clothing and sun shirts are created equal, just like sunscreens. High quality UPF clothing shouldn’t feel itchy, hot, heavy, or last only one season. High quality, smart UPF technical fabrics are long lasting and look and feel great against your skin. Invest in a good sunscreen and good quality UPF clothing and your skin will thank you for it!

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