Does your idea of family fun include spending time together outdoors? Then it’s important to protect the whole gang from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays.
There’s nothing cool about painful sunburns, early wrinkles, or a raised risk of skin cancer. And yet that’s just what too much UV exposure can bring. But did you know that the number one way to prevent skin cancer is to use sunscreen? And 70 to 80 percent of skin cancer is preventable! Keep your family safe by making sure everyone lathers up. Here’s what you need to know to get started:
Check the label. When shopping for sunscreen, make sure you choose one that:
- Offers broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays. All sunscreen products protect against UVB rays, which are the main culprit for sunburns, but UVA rays also contribute to skin cancer and early aging. Make sure your sunscreen is protecting you against both.
- Has a sun protective factor (SPF) of at least 30. This dermatologist-recommended level of protection blocks 97 percent of the sun’s rays.
- Is water-resistant. Sunscreen being water-resistant is important even if you don’t plan to get in a pool or ocean, because sunscreen can also wash off your skin when you sweat.
Apply sunscreen before you go outside, not while you’re outside. It takes about 15 minutes for its protection to kick in.
Use enough of the stuff. Many people make the mistake of using too little sunscreen. Experts recommend using at least 1 ounce—about the amount you can hold in the palm of your hand—to cover exposed skin. This includes the face, ears, arms, hands, nose, neck, and feet. Use a lip balm with sunscreen in it to protect your lips.
Reapply at least every two hours. Put more on immediately after you swim or sweat excessively.
Lather up the kids too. Follow the label instructions when applying sunscreen to children’s exposed skin. If you have a baby younger than six months, it’s best to keep him or her in the shade to protect that sensitive skin.
Use it daily. According to Jaleh Eslami, MD, a plastic surgeon with Kettering Physician Network at Kettering Plastic Surgery Center, many people have a misconception that you only need sunscreen when spending long days at the pool or beach. However, it’s important to protect your skin all the time, whether you’re spending the day at a park or cookout, playing with the kids in the yard, or even just driving for a long time on a sunny day.
You’ll also want to help your family avoid getting too much sun. For instance, encourage everyone to seek a shady spot whenever possible. Before you head outside, hand out some wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.