Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the sun. Follow these simple steps to protect yourself from sun damage.
There are many different sunscreens to choose from. Follow the tips below from the American Cancer Society as a guide when choosing one:
- Read the labels. When choosing sunscreen, be sure to read the label before you buy. Food and Drug Administration regulations require the labels to follow certain guidelines.
- Choose a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection. Sunscreens with this label protect against both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancers, but UVA rays also contribute to skin cancer and premature aging.
- Make sure your sunscreen has a sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher. The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays. No sunscreen protects you completely.
- “Water resistant” does not mean “waterproof.” No sunscreens are waterproof or “sweatproof,” and manufacturers are not allowed to claim that they are. If a product’s front label makes claims of being water resistant, it must specify whether it lasts for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating. For best results, reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and even more often if you are swimming or sweating.
- Check the expiration date on the sunscreen to be sure it’s still effective. Most sunscreen products are good for at least 2 to 3 years, but you may need to shake the bottle to remix the sunscreen ingredients.
- Apply the sunscreen properly. Most experts recommend applying sunscreen generously. When putting it on, pay close attention to your face, ears, neck, arms, and any other areas not covered by clothing. And don’t forget your lips; lip balm with sunscreen is also available.
Layer on protection for sun safety
Sunscreen is a great first step but don't forget these additional ways to protect yourself:
- Cover up. When you're out in the sun, wear clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect as much skin as possible. Protect your eyes with sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UV light.
- Seek shade. Limit your direct exposure to the sun, especially between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm when UV rays are strongest.
- Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps. Both can cause serious long-term skin damage and contribute to skin cancer.
For more information about sun safety and skin cancer prevention, talk to a Lake Health dermatologist. To find one near you, go to lakehealth.org.
Sources: American Cancer Society