A recent American Academy of Dermatology survey found that many believe several tanning myths, which if followed, can cause significant skin damage.
According to the survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults, 63% of respondents reported getting a tan in 2021. Of the survey respondents who reported getting sunburned, 28% reported that their sunburn was severe enough that their clothes were uncomfortable. The top four places they were burned were their face (60%), arms (59%), shoulders (55%) and neck (41%).
Part of the increase in sunburns can be attributed to not knowing sunburn risks. The survey also found that many still believe several tanning myths, which if followed, can cause significant skin damage. Of the survey respondents, 45% believe one or more of these tanning myths:
22% believe a base tan will prevent sunburns.
20% believe tanning is safe as long as you do not burn.
18% believe a base tan decreases the risk of skin cancer.
13% believe tanning is healthy.
Tanning and sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer and premature skin ageing. Research also shows it only takes one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence to nearly double a person’s risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, later in life.
To protect yourself from the sun and reduce your risk of skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone practice safe sun by:
Seeking shade. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow appears to be shorter than you are, seek shade.
Wearing sun-protective clothing, such as a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection, when possible. For more effective protection, choose clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) number on the label.
Applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all skin not covered by clothing. Broad-spectrum sunscreen provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. This year, an estimated 197,700 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2022.