Sunscreen Basics

Most people are aware that using sunscreen will protect their skin from sunburn and skin cancer. Many people, however, are confused about sunscreen basics. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Who should wear sunscreen?

Everyone over 6 months old should use sunscreen daily. No matter what skin color you have, skin cancer is always a threat and wearing sunscreen can lower your risk.

When should I wear sunscreen?

Everyday. Even if you will be inside most of the day, you should wear sunscreen for those times when you are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays through a window or when you are not indoors. Sunscreen should be applied to dry skin 15 minutes before sun exposure. Re-apply sunscreen after swimming or a heavy sweat.

What sunscreen should I use?

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum (protects against both UVA and UVB rays), SPF 30 or greater, and water resistant sunscreen.

Is sunscreen safe for daily use?

There are no scientific studies that have shown that using sunscreen is hazardous to your health, however, there is plenty of scientific evidence that not wearing sunscreen can put you at higher risk for skin cancer, not to mention it can make you look older sooner.

What else can I do to protect myself against skin cancer?

There are several things that one can do in addition to wearing sunscreen that will protect the skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun, including:

Wear protective clothing – sun hats, sunglasses, long pants, long sleeved shirts
Stay in the shade – when possible between 10am and 2pm
Use extra protection when near water, snow, or sand- the harmful UV rays are reflected and harmful exposure is increased
Do not seek out the sun for vitamin D – get your daily vitamin D from a healthy diet
Avoid tanning beds – they are just as damaging to the skin as the sun
Use tanning products instead of the sun or tanning bed
Check yourself for skin changes and consult a physician if you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin