How to Properly use Sunscreen to Prevent a Sunburn
Skin Cancer Care Specialists | August 1, 2018
There are many prevention measures you can take to reduce your risk of sunburns (as well as skin cancer) such as wearing UPF clothing, UV-blocking sunglasses and hats or limiting your time in the sun altogether. Among the most important is using sunscreen when you know you will be exposed to the sun. With all the information available today, it’s easy to understand the role sunscreen plays in protecting your skin from sunburn by blocking UVA and UVB radiation. Unfortunately, your skin can still burn if you choose the wrong sunscreen, don’t apply enough sunscreen, or forget to adequately reapply throughout the day.
SPF, or the Sun Protection Factor, is the measurement that rates each sunscreen for its ability to prevent UVB from reaching and penetrating the skin. This means that if you apply an appropriate amount of SPF 15, theoretically you can stay in the sun up to 15 times longer before your skin will begin to burn. It is important to remember that sunscreen still needs to be reapplied every two hours. Make sure to know how much sunscreen you should be applying before you decide to hit the beach. An average adult should apply 1 oz (one shot glass full) 30 minutes prior to exposure for sunscreen to be effective.
A higher SPF does block more of the sun’s rays than a lower SPF. While choosing a sunscreen with a high SPF is important (we recommend at least SPF 30), it is even more important to use sunscreen properly. The best sunscreen practices to follow are to make sure you apply enough sunscreen, apply it in advance of sun exposure, apply one with water resistance if appropriate, reapply at least every 2 hours, and limit your exposure to the sun to the greatest extent possible.
You should also choose a sunscreen that offers broad spectrum protection. This means that the sunscreen protects against the long-wave ultraviolet rays (UVA) as well as the shortwave ultraviolet rays (UVB). In the past, studies supported the idea that it was only necessary for sunscreens to protect against UVB rays as they were thought to be the most damaging to the skin. New information shows that both types of radiation can cause sunburns, aging, sun damage, and put you at risk for skin cancers.
At Skin Cancer Care Specialists, we believe that it is important to educate yourself on how to protect your skin on a daily basis. Sunscreen plays an important role in establishing a long-term sun protection regimen in addition to good skin care habits that help keep your skin happy and healthy for years to come.