It is a cloudy day - time to apply some sunscreen

We rarely apply sunscreen on a cloudy day because we think the sun’s rays do not reach us. This article will explain the truth behind this myth, why we may develop skin cancer on body parts which don’t get exposed to the sun, and more.


“It’s a cloudy day so there is no need for sunscreen”

Where does the myth come from?

It is true that clouds block some UltraViolet (UV) rays, but not all of them. Thick, dense clouds greatly reduce the amount of harmful UV rays that reach you, but the amount of UV light filtered by thin clouds is negligible. Even worse: on partly cloudy days, clouds can increase your UV exposure, because they provide numerous edges and surfaces that reflect the UV rays - rather than blocking them.

Cloudy days can make you less cautious because they are cooler than sunny days, and therefore you may be tempted to stay outside longer on a cool, cloudy day.

The reality behind the myth

It is a common myth that you can’t get sunburned on a cloudy day; this is simply not the case. Even under cloud cover, it is possible for the sun to harm your skin and eyes, and cause long-term damage. The Skin Cancer Foundation says that clouds block as little as 20% of UV rays - so on a cloudy day you’re still getting up to 80% of the sun’s harsh effects. It is important that you protect yourself with sunscreen, even in cloudy weather.




“Skin cancer develops only on parts of the body that have gotten too much sun”

Where does the myth come from?

As too much sun exposure is among the risk factors of skin cancer, it is believed that only the body parts exposed to the sun are in danger of developing skin cancer. As a result, other parts of the body where spots or moles are located, may be neglected.

The reality behind the myth

Cancer can also develop on skin that is usually covered by clothes or in shadow. Because cancer can occur anywhere on the skin, a doctor performing skin cancer screening examines all areas of the skin. In addition, sun exposure is only one of the risk factors of skin cancer; others are fair skin, exposure to large amounts of coal tar, paraffin, arsenic compounds, or certain types of oil, family history and weakened immune system. To diagnose skin cancer, a d looks at the skin, carefully examining growths, moles, and dry patches all over the body.


“If I use sunscreen and spend less time in the sun, I won’t get skin cancer”

Where does the myth come from?

It is believed that sun exposure is the main and sometimes only cause of skin cancer. Consequently, sunscreen is seen as sufficient for protection.

The reality behind the myth

Even though limiting your sun exposure can reduce your risk of getting skin cancer, the risk is not reduced to zero. Genes also influence the risk of developing skin cancer. In addition, the risk of skin cancer can remain high for some people who use sunscreen because they are not using it properly.

Even people who avoid outdoor activities are at risk for skin cancer because they too are exposed to ultraviolet radiation. People get most of their ultraviolet radiation exposure through routine activities like walking a dog or trying to find a parked car. Avoiding sunlight when it is strongest—between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.—can reduce your exposure, as can wearing a hat and long sleeves during routine activities.


Other sources include American Society for Dermatologic Surgery and MD Anderson Cancer Center

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