Think your ripped jeans protect you from sunburn? Think again

Korin Miller
Writer
Yahoo Lifestyle
(Photo: Getty Images)
(Photo: Getty Images)

It’s easy to think you don’t need sunscreen on areas of your body that are covered by clothes — after all, there’s a physical barrier between UV rays and your skin. But plenty of folks are revealing on Twitter that this method of sun protection isn’t exactly foolproof.

People are sharing photos of their burned legs after wearing ripped jeans outside sans sunscreen — and they have interesting-looking burn marks.

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Although most of the tweets center on the painful lesson learned, the real takeaway here is to wear sunscreen on any exposed parts of your body — even those areas left vulnerable by tears in jeans.

“I am not surprised by this at all,” Gary Goldenberg, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. Even though clothing is an important way to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, wearing clothes with holes — intentional or otherwise — leaves you open to burns and sun damage, he says.

Plenty of people laughed off their burns, but sunburns can be quite serious. “There is conclusive scientific evidence that UV exposure causes mutations in skin cells that can later lead to skin cancer, some of which are deadly, like melanoma,” Goldenberg says. Approximately 91,270 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year, according to the American Cancer Society, and 9,320 people are expected to die of the disease in 2018.

Of course, not every burn you get automatically leads to skin cancer. Still, burns definitely raise your risk, which is why it’s so important to be smart about your sun exposure.

Goldenberg recommends being aware of your exposed skin and applying sunscreen to all areas that aren’t covered by fabric — including rips or holes.

It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of putting on sunscreen daily. “I tell my patients that applying sunscreen should be like brushing your teeth,” Goldenberg says. “Most of us would not leave our home without brushing — same with sunscreen.” Goldenberg recommends using it along with your makeup, as an aftershave, or applying it when you get out of the shower. “Applying sunscreen on all sun-exposed surfaces is very important,” he says. “It may save your life and will protect you from premature aging and wrinkles.” And, of course, it will help shield you from burns on your legs thanks to artfully ripped jeans.

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