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Smart Steps for Sun Protection
Know the ABCs of SPFs

By Joan McClusky
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 17, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- You know you're supposed to slather on a high-SPF sunscreen before going out in the sun, but these five steps will help you double up on that protection.

First, it's important to know that there are two types of harmful ultraviolet rays. UVA rays cause lasting skin damage and aging. UVB rays cause sunburn along with skin damage. Both can lead to skin cancer, so your sunscreen should protect against both. Look for the word "broad-spectrum" on the label.

Next, you want to check out the ingredients. Sun protection products may contain chemical and/or physical sunscreens. Most products use chemical sunscreens, like oxybenzone, that absorb damaging UV rays. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are physical sunscreens. They sit on the skin and reflect and diffuse UV rays. They also work right away, unlike chemical sunscreens -- it can take 30 minutes before they're effective. Physical sunscreens might be better for youngsters and people with sensitive skin.

Third, know your number. The SPF, or sun protection factor, measures how well the sunscreen will shield you from UVB damage. In general, SPF 15 provides a good level of protection from sunburn, skin cancer and aging. But if you are very light skinned or have had skin cancer, ask your doctor if the increased protection of SPF 30 or 50 is better for you.

How much to apply? About an ounce -- two tablespoons -- for head-to-toe coverage. If you're using a spray, apply it until you can see an even sheen on your skin. In general, reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off. If you're going to be exercising outdoors, look for "water-resistant" sunscreen, which must specify whether it protects for 40 or 80 minutes of vigorous activity so that you know how often to reapply it.

More information

The Skin Cancer Foundation has detailed information on the importance of wearing sunscreen to protect your skin.

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=723651

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
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The list of medical terms above are retrieved automatically from the article.

Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
Be advised that HealthDay articles are derived from various sources and may not reflect your own country regulations. The Health On the Net Foundation does not endorse opinions, products, or services that may appear in HealthDay articles.


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