iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The American Medical Association says more Americans than ever are taking precautions against sun damage, but it’s not enough.
“People are not using enough sunscreen and they are not reapplying it often enough,” Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist, said.
Sunscreen can be confusing. A recent report in JAMA Dermatology — a monthly publication from the American Medical Association — says that only 51 percent of Americans understand what “SPF” means. The term generally appears on sunscreen tubes and bottles.
“SPF” stands for sun protection factor. An SPF of 15 blocks about 95 percent of UV rays. An SPF of 30 will block about 97 percent and an SPF of 50 will block 98 percent, Day said.
She said people often forget to apply sunscreen to their ears and the areas where their cheeks meet their necks.
“We see skin cancer mostly in sun-exposed areas … What happens is, you apply sunscreen [around the nose], you feather it out, you run out by the time you get the periphery, and then you let it go,” Day said.
People are also urged to remember to apply sunscreen to their hands.
Parents may be vigilant about keeping their children’s skin protected, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only 34 percent of women and 18 percent of men use sunscreen on their faces every day.
“Make sure you apply your sunscreen before leaving the house, then apply it to your kids,” Day said. “My experience is when you apply it on your children first, life calls and you get busy.”
Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer, with about 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancers diagnosed every year throughout the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.
Melanoma, a far more dangerous kind of skin cancer, is expected to account for more than 73,000 cases of skin cancer in 2015, also according to the ACS.
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