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Sun Protection: Sunscreen And Your Health

It’s summer, but sun safety is always in season.

It’s important to protect your skin from sun damage throughout the year, no matter the weather. Why? Sun exposure can cause sunburn, skin aging (such as skin spots, wrinkles, or “leathery skin”), eye damage and skin cancer, the most common of all cancers.

Different kinds of sun protection

Did you know there are two types of sunscreen? Mineral vs. chemical.

Mineral sunscreen forms a barrier on the surface of the skin that reflects the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreen absorbs damaging UV rays before they can harm your skin

In general, the Federal Drug and Food Administration (FDA) recommends that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, even on cloudy days. Apply sunscreen liberally to all uncovered skin, especially your nose, ears, neck, hands and feet, and reapply at least every two hours. Apply more often if you’re swimming or sweating especially after two hours in the sun.

Water resistant sunscreen keeps its SPF level after about 40 minutes of water exposure. Water proof sunscreen keeps its SPF level after 90 minutes of water exposure.

For every two hours in the sun, use an ounce of sunscreen on exposed skin. For added protection, wear a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher to block 97 percent of the sun’s rays.

In addition to wearing sunscreen, you can limit your time in the sun and wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun, such as long-sleeve shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brim hats. Look for sun-protective clothing when you shop.

Indoor protection

Indoor light, mainly in the form of fluorescent and halogen, emit low levels of UVA light that can be hazardous to the skin. These are the rays that damage and age skin and cause skin cancer. So wear sunscreen even when indoors!

Some Sun Is Okay

Twenty minutes of unprotected sun exposure daily actually is good for you. It gives you the recommended dose of Vitamin D. But 20 minutes is the max. Any more time when you’re in the sun, you definitely need protection.

Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays can penetrate deep into your skin. They can increase age spots and wrinkling. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays can burn and damage your skin and cause skin cancer, the most common type of cancer. UVB rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If possible, avoid extended time outdoors during this period.

Reminder: Check your sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years. Its shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.



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