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Stay Protected From The Sun’s Rays

Photo from Pixabay

As summer fast approaches beginning with Memorial Day this weekend, more people will be taking to the beach, pool or general outdoors. And that means it’s time to lather on the sunscreen.

As has been pointed out by many health advisories over the years, exposure to UVA and UVB rays is always harmful. The initial damage is in the form of a tan or the worse sunburn, but these can lead to more serious skin conditions such as early wrinkles, melanoma or skin cancer.

There is a wide range of sunscreen products available on the market for the express purpose of preventing all these, but the trouble comes in deciding what kind to get. Most sunscreens offer broad spectrum protection from UVA and UYB rays, but SPF values are anywhere from 2 to 100+, which can make it quite confusing for the average person.

Dr. Colette Pameijer, a surgical oncologist at the Penn State Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center explains that the SPF number on sunscreen tells how many minutes a person can stay under the sun with the sunscreen on, compared to having no sunscreen.

“I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that SPF is really a personal number,” she said. “The amount of protection that I get from an SPF 30 is different than what someone else with a different skin type would get.”

The general rule of thumb is that people should apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30.

Paying for sunscreen with higher SPFs may not really be beneficial, Pameijer says. “You may end up paying a lot of money for diminishing returns, and it may lead to a false sense of security. The product needs to be used correctly – reapplied every two hours – in order to work. If you pay a lot of money for a sunscreen and then use it sparingly, you’re not really getting the SPF you think.”

Men who are reluctant to use scented sunscreens may opt for products designed specifically for them, while parents might want to use the more convenient spray-type sunscreen on children. With sprays, it’s important that the sunscreen gets on the skin and is not blown into the wind, Pameijer adds.

Those who are allergic to sunscreen or are not keen on spreading the stuff on may want to go for UV clothing, which usually has SPFs between 30 and 50. A regular white t-shirt has an SPF of about 3. Most UV clothing is made with lightweight fabric, like bathing suits, so they can be worn in and out of water. The good side to this is that unlike sunscreen, UV clothing will protect the wearer’s skin without having to reapply sunscreen all the time.

There are many ways to stay protected from harmful rays. “The best sunblock is one that you will wear, so find one you like,” says Pameijer.

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