Don't fall for these common skin myths..Your skin tells the story of your lifestyle choices and your skin care knowledge. If what you know about healthy skin care is limited or misinformed, you could be putting more than your appearance at risk -- you could be jeopardizing your health.
Let's dispel some commonly held skin care myths, so you can properly care for your skin.
Myth # 1 - Tanning protects the skin from the sun.
You may think your tan gives you a healthy glow, but it's not good for you. Whether you tan from the sun or indoor tanning beds, there are serious health risks. Tanning increases your exposure to UV radiation and can cause skin cancer, burns, premature aging and eye damage.
Years ago, I was on a TV show where I was debating the health risks of tanning with someone representing the tanning industry. But there really is no debate. Indoor tanning damages and destroys your skin. If you want to look years older than your true age, have deep wrinkles and ruin the color and texture of your skin, go ahead and tan.
You will be increasing your chances of getting a life-threatening malignant melanoma by 75 percent, especially if you are under 35. I have been telling my clients for years to avoid tanning. While there are things you can't control regarding your skin such as your genes and environmental toxins, you can control whether or not you tan.
So just say no. If you crave the color you get from a tan, use a sunless tanner. It's a safe alternative to basking in the sun.
Myth # 2 - Tattoos are safe.
I'm not a big fan of tattoos, although I recognize that some people love them and are happy with the results. I see the complications in my office. With tattoos you are at risk for hepatitis, allergic reactions as well as staph and strep infections.
I have certainly treated all of these complications in my practice. Sun reactions are surprisingly common with tattoos, especially those with yellow ink. The pigment reacts to the sun, leading to nasty-looking blisters which can be serious enough to leave deep scars.
The potential for allergic reactions is so great that anyone who is even mildly allergic (and those with asthma) should think long and hard before getting inked. Tattoos also don't age well. With years, they blur and colors run. If you get a tattoo, think it through carefully and weigh the risks. If you still opt for a tattoo, make sure the person who does it is well-trained, certified and recommended by a doctor.
Related: Moms and Tattoos: Trendy or Trashy?
Myth # 3 - Sunscreen is only for the beach.
Sunlight without sunscreen is never a good idea, even if you are out in the sun for a few minutes. Sun damage is cumulative, so use sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 daily. Make certain the product you choose blocks both the UVA and UVB rays as both are very damaging to the skin.
Exposure to ultraviolet light, UVA or UVB from sunlight accounts for 90 percent of the symptoms of premature skin aging such as wrinkles and skin cancers. Even on a cloudy day, 80 percent of the sun's ultraviolet rays pass through the clouds.
Pay particular attention to your face, back of your ears, hands and arms. Lips get sunburned too, so apply a lip balm with the highest SPF you can find.
Myth # 4 - You are safe from the sun in your car.
Many people believe they are safe from the sun in their cars. For years, I've noticed that people with skin cancers on the left side of the face tend to be drivers, while those with skin cancers on the right side of their faces don't drive and are usually passengers in the front seat.
My patients with convertibles (unless they are extremely careful) have skin cancers almost everywhere on their heads, from the scalp down to their chins. Besides urging my patients to trade in the convertible, I always point out that it's easy to get sunburned while driving in a car. UVA rays penetrate through car windows and damage skin.
This also applies to those unprotected hands on the steering wheel and the arm resting on the window. Apply sunscreen before you get in your car.
Related: Dealing with Adult Acne
Myth # 5 - Skin cancer is only a risk for older people.
Recently, I found a melanoma in a 20-year-old. Each year I see more melanomas in younger and younger patients. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer found in people of ages 25 to 29. Melanoma is the deadliest of all skin cancer, but if found in the earliest stages, it's totally curable.
Make certain to get your body checked annually by a dermatologist. Do not put it off. More than 1 million cases of all types of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year. So be smart get your skin checked, avoid tanning beds and use your sunscreen regularly.
With increased knowledge about good skin care, you can protect your appearance and your health.
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