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Your Healthy Family: 3 misconceptions about when to wear sunscreen

Posted at 6:06 AM, Aug 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-04 06:08:30-04

ESTERO, Fla. — Whether you're planning a beach day or you enjoy time outside every day, there are three misconceptions about when to wear sunscreen that you need to be aware of.

“Ultraviolet light, over, time will potentially cause sun damage, pre-cancerous changes in the skin, and possibly skin cancer, which is very common," Dr. Gregory Houck of Houck Dermatology in Estero said.

He said he sees skin cancer in his office every day, and explained the common misconceptions about sunscreen.

Misconception #1: You don't need sunscreen every day

He said even if you don't have outdoor plans, you should still wear sunscreen every day.

"Because just walking to your car for five minutes or walking outside for a few minutes, that will have, over time, an accumulation effect. You can help prevent not only sun damage and not only skin cancers, but premature aging, fine lines, you can prevent pigmentation on your face," he said.

For example, if you spend 10 minutes each day outside just walking to and from your car, that's about 300 minutes each month and 3,600 minutes each year; that's a lot of time exposed to dangerous UV rays. That's why Dr. Houck said wearing sunscreen at least on your face, is key to preventing skin cancer. And it's even better if you wear it on all skin exposed to the sun.

Misconception #2: You can only get a sunburn when it's sunny out

"Even if it's cloudy, you can still actually get a sunburn and you can accumulate and get yourself exposed to the sunlight," Dr. Houck said.

The American Academy of Dermatology says up to 80 percent of UV rays can penetrate through clouds, which leads perfectly into the next misconception.

Misconception #3: You're more prone to sun burns on cloudy days

Dr. Houck said that's not the case, but it may seem that way because when it's not as sunny, you may think you don't need to wear sunscreen.

“You're probably not prepared. You don't realize, maybe it doesn't feel as hot. And it happens, especially here in Florida," he said.

Dr. Houck says the peak sun hours are 10 AM-4 PM, when the UV rays are the strongest. So he recommends getting outside early in the morning or in the evening.