Mayo Clinic Health System provides Eau Claire, Wis., and the surrounding communities with a wide range of medical specialties, including comprehensive pediatric and adolescent medicine, women’s health, cardiac and trauma care services. As part of Mayo Clinic Health System we offer a network of community-based health care providers in several locations throughout west-central Wisconsin including Barron, Bloomer, Cameron, Chetek, Chippewa Falls, Colfax, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Mondovi, Osseo, Prairie Farm and Rice Lake.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types, with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed each year in this country, according to the American Cancer Society. Sunscreen can help protect adults and children from the damaging rays of the sun, but it needs to be used properly. Here are some truths and myths about sunscreen and sun exposure.
It doesn’t matter what type of sunscreen a person uses. (False)
• Select sunscreens labeled “broad spectrum”:
o Ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are capable of altering DNA and increasing a person’s risk for skin cancer
• SPF 30 or higher
o Sun Protection Factors of 30 or higher is recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology
o Blocks 97 percent of UVB rays
o If applied properly, allows wearer 30 times longer sun exposure than what the skin could tolerate with no sunscreen.
o Contains ingredients that can adhere or withstand water
o Can maintain projection through 40 minutes of exposure to water
o No such thing as 100% waterproof sunscreen
Sunscreen is only necessary during the summer or on sunny days. (False)
• Ultraviolet rays penetrate the atmosphere year-round, even on cloudy days.
• Sun rays can even be intensified as they reflect off of snow, water or ice.
• Sunscreen should be applied whenever someone is spending extended time outdoors during the daytime.
Sunscreen can expire. (True)
• The chemicals and ingredients used in sunscreen do break down over time, reducing the product’s effectiveness.
• If applying properly, users should go through multiple bottles of sunscreen every summer:
o 1 oz. per application (shot glass, palm-full)
o Apply 15 minutes prior to exposure
o Gently rub into skin
o Spray aerosol sunscreen into hands, then rub onto face
o Reapply every 2 hours
Sunscreen is recommended for infants. (False)
• Protect with clothing and shade if younger than 6 months.
• Look for “child-safe” label for use on kids 6 months or older.
Using sunscreen will limit the amount of vitamin D I get. (True)
• Sunlight doesn’t actually contain vitamin D, but it does start a chemical reaction in the body that helps it breakdown and absorb vitamin D.
• For the complexion of most people in this climate, only 4 minutes of exposure on a sunny day necessary to initiate that process.
Signs of skin cancer can appear only on parts of the body exposed to the sun. (False)
• Examine your entire body for:
o Change in size, shape or color of a mole or other skin lesion
o Appearance of a new growth on the skin
o A sore that doesn’t heal
• Skin cancer survival rates are relatively high if the cancer is caught and treated early.
• See a physician or dermatologist if you have an area of concern.