The American Academy of Dermatology offers information on sunscreen and sun safety.

1. Why should I use sunscreen?

Sunscreen provides protection from sun burns, early skin aging and skin cancer. Sunscreen protects you from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of age, gender or race. In fact, it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

2. What sunscreen should I use?

Everyone should use sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection (protection from UVA and UVB rays, is SPF 30 or higher and is water resistant. Since sunscreen alone can not fully protect you, dermatologists recommend seeking shade, wearing lightweight long sleeves when possible, getting vitamin D through a healthy diet and avoiding tanning beds.

3. When should I use sunscreen?

Every day if you will be outside. The sun emits harmful UV rays year-round. Even on cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin. Snow, sand, and water increase the need for sunscreen because they reflect the sun’s rays. Apply enough sunscreen to cover all skin that clothing will not cover. Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors.

4. What’s the difference between UVA and UVB?

Sunlight consists of two types of harmful rays that reach the earth — UVA rays and UVB rays. UVA rays (or aging rays) can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots, and can pass through window glass. UVB rays (or burning rays) are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by window glass.

5. How do I treat a sunburn?

It’s important to begin treating a sunburn as soon as possible. Take a cool bath to reduce the heat, moisturize the area consistently, take aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce the swelling and drink extra water.

If your skin blisters, you have a second-degree sunburn. Allow the blisters to heal untouched. Blisters form to help your skin heal and protect you from infection.


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