Sunscreen Tips

Use sunscreen every day of the year
Even on cloudy days, up 80% of the sun's harmful rays reach Earth. Use at least a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15.
Understand Sun Protection Factors (SPF)
An SPF of 8 filters out 86% of ultraviolet radiation. SPF 15 blocks 92% of damaging rays and SPF 30 blocks 96% of ultraviolet rays. Don't forget to apply sunscreen to lips, ears, and exposed scalp.
These work by absorbing most of the sun's rays before they penetrate the skin, but some still get through.
Zinc oxide or titanium oxide block or reflect the sun's rays.
Water-resistant sunscreens
These protect skin for 40 minutes of water exposure.
Waterproof sunscreens
These protect for 80 minutes.
Use plenty
Studies have shown that the average person uses about 1/2 the amount of sunscreen that the manufacturer used when determining the SPF value. The average adult requires one ounce (oz.) of sunscreen for adequate total body coverage. Children require about half this amount.
Apply to dry skin
Do so about 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors.
Be sure to do so after sweating, swimming, or toweling off.
Spray, gel, and lotion forms
These are now available. Sprays work best on the body and are fun for children. Gels work well for oily skin or when working and sweating. Lotions help dry skin.
Stick balms
These are great for lips and ears. These can also be used around the eyes to avoid stinging.
Be sure to avoid use on infants six months and younger as sunscreens may irritate baby skin. Care should be taken to totally avoid sun exposure during this period.
Store sunscreen in children's lunch boxes or book bags. Ask them to use again before going outdoors for recess or lunch.

Other Important Tips

Wear hats
Each inch of hat brim can lower your lifetime risk of skin cancer by 10%. A hat brim of four inches or greater is recommended. Make certain that the top and brim of a straw hat have sunproof liners in place.
Minimize sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
This is when the worst and greatest quantity of ultraviolet light exists. If your shadow is longer than your are tall, it is okay to be outside.
Wear protective eyewear
Sunglasses with UV-blocking filters are very important. The eye is the second most common site in which melanoma develops.
Some medications can increase sensitivity to the sun's rays
Certain antibiotics, birth-control pills, diuretics, antihistamines, and antidepressants may cause increased sensitivity to the sun. Dress accordingly and take extra precautions if you are taking any of these medications.
Discourage use of tanning parlors
Tanning devices can damage the skin and eyes as much as direct sunlight and have been linked to increased risk of developing melanoma.
Check the UV Index each day
Then be sure to dress accordingly. The UV Index is a prediction of the sun's UV radiation on any given day at noon. Check the Internet, your local newpaper, television, or radio for your local daily UV Index.

Interested in using our health content?