5 things you should know about sunscreen

5 things you should know about sunscreen

Knowledge is power, and that's especially true when it comes to protecting yourself from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.

It's estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. So how can you protect yourself and your family? Check out these five commonly asked sun protection questions to learn how to keep your family safe in the sun this summer.

What is SPF?
SPF stands for "sun protection factor," and it is accompanied by a number that indicates protection strength. The SPF number shows the level of protection you'll get when you spread one ounce of the sunscreen over your entire body. For example, if you can't be outside for more than 10 minutes without burning, SPF 15 multiplies that by a factor of 15, meaning you could go 150 minutes before burning while wearing sunscreen.

What should I look for in sunscreen? 
Rather than reaching for chemical sunscreens, which create a chemical barrier to the sun's rays and may disrupt hormones and decrease the immune system, look for a sunblock containing zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide. These create a physical barrier to the sun's rays and provide broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

When is it necessary to wear sunscreen?
You should be wearing sunscreen on any day you venture outdoors. Regardless of whether it's sunny or cloudy outside, the sun emits ultraviolet rays which can harm your skin, often through clothing. You'll especially need sunscreen on days when you're in full sun or around sand or water (which reflect the sun's rays), since that's when ultraviolet rays are at their strongest.

How much sunscreen should I wear?
Use enough sunscreen to cover all skin that won't be covered by clothing. On a normal day, that usually means your face (don't forget your lips!), ears, arms and hands. When you're at the beach or the pool, be sure to have a friend or family member help you apply sunscreen so you don't miss any exposed areas. The general rule is that you should wear at least one ounce of sunscreen to cover your whole body, but you should adjust that according to your body size.

How often should I apply sunscreen during the course of the day?  
On your first application, make sure to put on sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors to ensure it has time to dry. From there, you should reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.

Parents, keep in mind that sunscreen is not safe to use on children under six months old. The best way to protect children from ultraviolet rays is by dressing them in long sleeves, pants, a hat and sunglasses when they're outside. This is a good practice for people of all ages, since sunscreen will never be able to provide full protection from the sun.

Other ways to protect yourself include seeking shade, using extra caution around reflective surfaces such as water, snow and sand, and getting yearly checkups.

Talk to a primary care provider about more ways you can protect your skin year-round.

Posted: 7/20/2016 by Goshen Health
Filed under: Cancer Care

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