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UV Awareness Month: Myths about sun protection

UV Awareness Month: Myths about sun protection

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) — One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

The rays tempt and tantalize as Breighana Knittel and her daughters hit the beach, but this mom is well aware of the danger.

"Skin cancer runs in my family and I don't want to take that risk, especially with my kids," Breighana said.

When Bobby Jackson was growing up he didn't know about sun protection. His skin now shows the consequences.

"And I'm not exaggerating, it's probably 40 or 50 places over the years that have either burned, frozen, or cut off," Bobby said.

The letters SPF are everywhere, but dermatologist Dr. Sean Branch said there are still a lot of myths about the sun and your skin.

The biggest one - a "base tan" will protect you from burning later.

"In order for your body to produce a tan to begin with there has to be DNA damaged at the cellular level," Dr. Branch explained.

So sun protection is needed all the time.

To bust some other myths, Channel 3 asked Breighana to help us with a little quiz. She started off the day right - putting sunscreen on her kids 15 minutes before going outside.

Question No. 1: How often should you reapply?

The answer is every two hours, but Dr. Branch said many people don't reapply at all, putting themselves at risk.

Question No. 2: Is a higher SPF number really better?

"I do think it makes a difference," Breighana said - and she's right! The higher the better.

While SPF 30 blocks more than 97 percent of harmful rays, the extra protection in SPF 60 cuts the remaining risk to your skin in half.

Make sure the words "broad spectrum" are on the label to protect yourself against both UVA and UVB rays.

Don't worry about the brand name, just take Bobby's advice and use it consistently.

"I don't wear aftershave lotion anymore, I wear sunscreen," he said.

The doctor said some people are concerned about chemicals in sunscreens like oxybenzone. If you want to avoid them there are lot of mineral blockers like zinc and titanium dioxide.

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