Medical Misconceptions: Sun Protection

Each month we set the facts straight regarding a popular health and wellness myth.

This month’s misconception: Sun protection practices

Today is the first day of summer and, for many, it’s a season filled with outdoor activities. Whether you’re heading to the shore or staying close to home, sun protection is vital for outdoor summer fun. This month, we’re clarifying four sun protection myths:

  1. Myth: No sun protection is needed on a cloudy day.

When the sun is hiding behind the clouds, there might be the temptation to skip the sunscreen. But, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can shine through the clouds, making it important to wear sunscreen no matter the conditions.

  1. Myth: After applying sunscreen, you can stay out as long as you want in the sun and stay protected.

Sunscreen must be applied at least every two hours in order to offer protection, according to the FDA, and applied more often if one is swimming or sweating a lot.

  1. Myth: Putting sunscreen on right before you walk outside is most effective.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, individuals should put sunscreen on at least 15 minutes before going outside. This gives the sunscreen time to absorb into the skin and offer protection.

  1. Myth: Sunscreen doesn’t expire.

Just like other products, sunscreen has a limited shelf life and expires after three years, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some sunscreens include an expiration date, but if yours doesn’t, the Mayo Clinic recommends writing the date of purchase on the bottle. Also pay attention to the color and consistency of the sunscreen; if you notice any changes, it’s best to discard and buy new.


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