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Sun Protection

The scoop on sunscreen

Created date

July 24th, 2012

The many choices of sunscreens on store shelves these days can be mind boggling how do you know which is best? Your doctor can tell you. The best choice depends on your skin type, allergies, use of medications, the presence of health conditions, and sunburn and tanning history. As a general guideline, you want a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB radiation. Both types of radiation can contribute to skin cancer, aging of skin, and eye damage. And it doesn t matter if it s sunny outside up to 80% of UV radiation penetrates through cloud cover. Both snow and sand also reflect the sun s rays to your skin. If you will be outside, dermatologists recommend using sunscreen every day, no matter the season.

Don t skimp on applying

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before heading outside, and be sure to use enough: One ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) is considered sufficient for most people to cover the exposed areas of their skin. Research shows that the majority of people only apply 25% to 50% of the recommended amount. You should reapply sunscreen about every two hours, more often if you are swimming or perspiring. The FDA has enacted new requirements for sunscreen labeling, so products can no longer claim that they are waterproof or sweat proof but can claim water-resistant status that will last up to 80 minutes. Sunscreens are also required to maintain their original effectiveness for three years, so check your expiration dates. If there is any change in the color or consistency of the product, discard it. What type of sunscreen you use is a matter of personal preference. You can choose lotions, creams, ointments, gels, sticks, or sprays, but if you develop a skin rash or irritation that does not go away, consult your doctor.