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Sunscreen Guide

Guide to Sunscreen Use

Everyone needs sunscreen regardless of race or skin color.  Sunscreen helps to protect your skin from early aging, as well as sunburns and skin cancer.  Here are some tips to stay safe in the sun:

1)       Try to stay in the shade between 10 am-2 pm, because this is when the sun’s rays are the strongest.

2)      Wear wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and long sleeved shirts and pants to minimize sun exposure. These are very important for  children under 6 months because they cannot wear sunscreen.

3)      Sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium oxide are better to use on children over 6 months old.

4)      Water, snow and sand can reflect sunrays causing more chances of burning.

5)      Apply sunscreen every day, even on days when it’s cloudy.

6)      Sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outside so it can be absorbed properly.

7)      About a shot glass sized amount of sunscreen should be applied for an adult and a little less for children.

8)      Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or sooner if swimming or sweating.

9)      Choose a sunscreen that has SPF 30-50 and has coverage for both UVA and UVB of at least 97%. A higher SPF is not needed.

10)   Do not use sunscreen-insect repellant combinations because sunscreen needs to be reapplied frequently, while the insect repellant should not be used too often.

11)   If using spray-on sunscreen, apply generously and rub it in.

12)   Lips can also be burned so use lip balm with SPF >30.

13)   Sunglasses  should have 99% UVA and UVB protection.

14)   No need to toss out sunscreen every year- it can be used for three years after opening.

If you do get sunburn here are ways to feel comfortable:

Take a cool bath then pat yourself dry and apply a moisturizer right away to avoid your skin from getting too dry.

You can use aspirin and ibuprofen for pain and swelling.

Stay hydrated- becoming dehydrated makes it more difficult for the skin to heal.

If you have blistering, don’t touch!  Popping those blisters causes more infections.  If there is a large area of blisters or its on your face, see a doctor.

Please note: 5 sunburns or even one sunburn with blisters can increase your chance of melanoma- so be safe!

Ritu Sharma MD Internal Medicine- Pediatrics Physician

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