Healthy words to live by… Common tanning misconceptions

By Tess Simon, MD

There are many falsehoods about tanning that have circulated over the years — and believing these misconceptions can lead to poor skin health. Let’s set the record straight on these top five myths, so you’ll know how to give your skin the proper protection it needs.

Myth #1 – A base tan helps avoid sunburn.

Sun-tanned skin is damaged skin. With prolonged exposure to harmful UV rays, your skin will become darker with a leather-like texture and appearance. The best way to avoid a sunburn is to:

• Apply sunscreen of at least SPF 15.

• Limit time in the sun during peak hours (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).

• Wear protective gear such as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

• Cover your arms and legs with lightweight, loose clothing.

Many people also believe that if you don’t burn, tanning is safe. However, anytime you expose your skin to the sun, you are increasing your risk of skin damage.

Myth #2 – Darker-skinned people don’t need sunscreen.

While fair-skinned people are more prone to sunburn, having darker skin does not mean that you don’t have to worry about skin damage from sun exposure. Anyone who has regular, prolonged exposure to harmful UV rays, can increase their risk of developing skin damage and skin cancer.

Myth #3 – Tanning beds are safer than the sun.

The truth is tanning beds are just as dangerous as sun exposure. Tanning beds use ultraviolet radiation to tan your skin, which can cause the same damaging results as the sun. Instead, try using sunless tanner or bronzer that can give you the desired look of a tan.

Myth # 4 – You only have to worry about UVB rays.

There are two different kinds of rays — UVA and UVB, and both cause skin damage. UVA rays are typically associated with wrinkles and leather-like skin. UVB rays can be linked to the development of skin cancer. Both types are harmful to your skin.

Myth # 5: Skin cancer isn’t deadly.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 6,850 people are expected to die of melanoma (about 4,610 men and 2,240 women) in 2020. While melanoma is not as common as nonmelanoma skin cancers, the fact is that you can increase your risk of developing any type of skin cancer by not shielding your skin from the sun.

If you are concerned about your risk of developing skin cancer or want to learn more about protecting your skin, we can helpwhether you need cancer screenings or treatment. For more information or to schedule a skin cancer screening appointment, contact Tess Simon, MD, board-certified, internal medicine physician, today at 304-675-4500. Dr. Tess Simon can provide skin cancer screenings and when needed works with our caring oncology team to help guide you every step of the way.

Piece provided by Pleasant Valley Hospital.

By Tess Simon, MD

Tess Simon, MD, is a board-certified, internal medicine physician at Pleasant Valley Hospital.

Tess Simon, MD, is a board-certified, internal medicine physician at Pleasant Valley Hospital.