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Sunscreen: Questions and Answers
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Sunscreen: Questions and Answers

What Sunscreen Should I Use?

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays), SPF 30, and water resistant.

These factors help to protect your skin from sunburn, early skin aging, and skin cancer. However, sunscreen alone cannot fully protect you. Dermatologists also recommend that you seek shade when your shadow is shorter than you are and protect your skin by wearing long sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses whenever possible.

Who Needs Sunscreen?

Everyone. People of all skin colors get skin cancer. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than two million people are diagnosed annually.

Many of these skin cancers could have been prevented with protection from the sun’s rays.

When Should I Use Sunscreen?

Every day. The sun emits harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays year round. Even on cloudy days, harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin. On a cloudy day, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through the clouds. Snow and sand increase the need for sunscreen. Snow reflects 80% of the sun’s rays, and sand reflects 25% of the sun’s rays.

How Much Sunscreen Should I Use, and How Often Should I Apply It?

Use enough sunscreen to generously coat all skin that will not be covered by clothing. Ask yourself, “Will my face, ears, arms, or hands be covered by clothing?” If not, apply sunscreen.

To be sure you use enough, follow this guideline:

One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body. Adjust the amount of sunscreen applied depending on your body size.

Most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen.

Apply the sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors.

Skin cancer also can form on the lips. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Re-apply sunscreen approximately every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily according to the directions on the bottle.

What Type Of Sunscreen Should I Use?

Available sunscreen options include lotions, creams, gels, ointments, wax sticks and sprays.

Creams are best for dry skin and the face.

Gels are good for hairy areas, such as the scalp or male chest.

Sticks are good to use around the eyes.

Sprays are easy to apply to children. Make sure to use enough to cover the entire surface area thoroughly, and do not inhale them.

There also are sunscreens made for specific purposes, such as for sensitive skin and babies.

Be sure to apply it generously to achieve the UV protection indicated on the product label.

Information in this article is from the American Academy of Dermatology

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