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Fact vs. Fiction About Protecting Yourself From the Sun

Summertime has arrived! After the cold winter and rainy spring of New England, it feels great to be out in the sun. However, all that sunshine means increased exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. But no need to worry; understanding the proper use of sunscreens, clothing, and shade will help protect yourself and your loved ones from sun damage. So, before you soak up some sun, be sure to check out the guide below. We have the facts so that the only fiction you will be reading is on the beach.

Sun Exposure Fact vs Fiction: 

Myth: “I can’t get a sunburn if it’s cloudy.” 	
Truth: The sun’s UV rays penetrate through clouds and become more intense as they reflect off the moisture. Unprotected skin is therefore still exposed to sun damage. 

Myth: “Using tanning lotion or getting a spray tan will protect my skin.”	
Truth: Fake tans do not protect the skin from sun damage. While some tanning lotions include SPF (Sun protection factor) ratings, carefully read the label, and reapply as needed or use an additional sunblock. 

Myth: “A higher SPF rating means that I can stay in the sun longer.”	Truth: SPF labels only indicate the level of protection against UVB rays, and there is very little difference in protection per SPF number. Therefore, the American Cancer Society recommends reapplying sunscreen every two hours maximum. 

Myth: “I should wear dark-tinted sunglasses to protect my eyes.”	Truth: Just like the shape, the tint of your sunglasses is up to your style. Look for sunglasses with a UV 400 rating or those labeled “100% UV protection.” This protection is available in lenses of many lighter colors.

Myth: “Tanning beds are safer than sunbathing.”
Truth: Tanning beds, while man-made, still use harmful UV radiation. Frequent use of tanning beds is proven to lead to skin aging and, in worse scenarios, skin cancer.

Here are some simple tips to help you stay safe while enjoying the sun:

  • Use sunscreen with an SPF-15 level of protection or higher. Be sure to apply sunscreen on clean, dry skin before sun exposer and reapply every two hours.
  • Cover exposed skin with clothing. Look for items made from a tightly woven fabric for the best protection. Full-brimmed hats also provide excellent protection for your face, ears, and neck.
  • Take breaks from direct sunlight. When available, remain under the shade of an umbrella, tree, or other forms of shelter.
  • Before going outside, check the daily UV Index for the expected level of UV radiation exposure.

Got a sunburn? ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care has plenty of resources available for sunburns and summer-related urgent care needs. Our centers are open seven days a week, 12 hours a day, and provide telemedicine services through our Virtual Visits program. Click here to find a ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care nearest you!