Information gathered and prepared by S. Bruni
Registered Pharmacist, Portage Medical Family Health Team
Come on Sunshine!
What should I know about sun protection?
- Sunscreen can help prevent skin cancer that is caused by exposure to UV light and prevent premature skin aging.
- UVB rays mostly cause sunburn. UVA rays can cause early skin aging and skin cancer. We recommend a sunscreen labelled “broad spectrum” to protect against both UVA and UVB rays and with an SPF of 30 or higher (some individuals require stronger SPF.
- FUN FACT! SPF (sun protection factor): SPF describes the amount of UVB protection (i.e., protection against sunburn) that a sunscreen provides and is not related to the amount of time it provides protection.
- Limit your time in the sun (especially between 10 AM and 2 PM when the sun’s rays are the strongest).
- Don’t forget your sunglasses (ones that block UV rays) and that you can still get a burn even if it is cloudy outside!
- Tightly woven dry clothes → reflect almost all UV rays.
- If light passes through clothing held up to the sun → UV rays will pass through to skin.
- Wet clothes → half of UV rays to pass through to skin.
- Protect the skin → wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and wide brimmed hats.
Remember the importance of applying sunscreen properly!
- Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure for the best effectiveness.
- Apply sunscreen every morning to face (don’t forget your ears and lips!), neck and hands.
- To protect your lips, choose a lip balm with SPF 30 or higher.
- Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed skin (most people apply only 1/4 to 1/2 of the recommended amount, putting their skin at risk!)
- The average sized adult should apply a total of 1 to 3 tablespoons (about a handful) of sunscreen per full-body application.
- This works out to about 1 teaspoon (per body part) to face/scalp and each arm, and 2 teaspoons (per body part) to torso and each leg.
- REMINDER!! Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours.
- Reapply even sooner if you are sweating or swimming.
- Product labelling will read “water resistant,” and must indicate whether the sunscreen remains effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while a person is swimming or sweating.
-Usually include combinations of ingredients avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, oxybenzone, mexoryl SX etc.
-Most common products
-Easier to apply
-Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide
-Can be thick and harder to apply but there are formulations that may make application easier
Both chemical and physical sunscreens are effective.
Find a product that you like and be sure to apply it properly!
Medications: Some may make your skin more sensitive to the sun and cause reactions such as an itchy, red rash or exaggerated sunburns. You should be advised by your pharmacist to minimize sun exposure and to use broad-spectrum sunscreens when sun exposure cannot be avoided.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding sun protection or require individual recommendations, please contact the Portage Medical Family Health Team for an individual appointment with the team Pharmacist.