Your skin is exposed to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays every time you go outside, even on cloudy days and in the winter. Sunscreen can protect your skin against burning, skin cancer, and premature aging. Whether you are on the beach, at an amusement park, or walking through the city, always remember to use sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you choose a sunscreen that has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher. It should also provide broad-spectrum protection from both the UVA and UVB rays. If there is any question check the label.
Apply the sunscreen generously before going outdoors. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. It takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. If you wait until you are in the sun to apply sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn. Most adults need at least one ounce of sunscreen, about the amount you can hold in your palm, to fully cover all exposed areas of your body. Rub the sunscreen thoroughly into your skin. Apply sunscreen to all bare skin. Remember your neck, face, ears, tops of your feet (especially if you are wearing sandals) and legs. For hard‐to‐reach areas like your back, ask someone to help you or use a spray sunscreen. If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a wide‐brimmed hat. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm with an SPF of at least 15. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours to remain protected. It is also a good idea to reapply after swimming or sweating. Typically people who get sunburned didn’t use enough sunscreen, didn’t reapply, or used an expired product. Remember water, snow, and sand can reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can also increase your chance of sunburn.
Other precautions you can take to protect yourself from the sun include wearing protective clothing like a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, or sunglasses. You can help others stay protected by offering them some of your sunscreens and sharing your shade.
Richard Donaldson, DO
Canyon View Family Medicine