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Avoid the Burn — Six Rules for Using Sunscreen

Published in Skin Care, For the Health of It Author: Elizabeth Blixt,MD

COVID-19 has made for quite an atypical summer. Kids alreadyhave been home from school for three months. Many activities and gatherings have been canceled. And it’s unclear if the “boys of summer” will take the field at all in 2020.

But there’s still no stopping the sun.

Going outside and staying active is important during this pandemic. Whenever we go, it is important that our skin is properly prepared for it. Please keep in mind the following recommendations from the American Academy of Dermatologists.

  • Everyone needs sunscreen. Wearing it helps protect you from skin cancer — a condition that people of any age, gender or race can get.
  • Everyone should use a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, SPF 30 or higher and water resistant. You also can further protect yourself by wearing lightweight long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats and sunglasses to further reduce your exposure.
  • What's not important is the kind of sunscreen you use. What is important is that you use enough of it. Lotions, wax sticks and spray sunscreens have all been proven to be effective. However, it is estimated that only 25-50 percent of people use the recommended amount of sunscreen. Most adults need about one ounce to fully cover all skin that clothing will not cover.
  • Apply ahead of time. And often. You should apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outdoors. You should also reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
  • Sunscreen is not recommended on babies. For infants less than six months old, limit the amount of time you spend outside. And when you do venture out with them, dress them in clothes that cover all their skin and keep them in the shade as much as possible.
  • Claims that sunscreen ingredients are a health hazard have not been proven. While there is ongoing research on some sunscreen ingredients, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have been identified as safe and effective. If you have concerns about sunscreen ingredients — you can favor ones that contain these ingredients. Again, just make sure that they are broad-spectrum, SPF 30 or higher and water resistant.