Need for protection from sunlight
- Exposure to both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays results in cumulated damage that leads to skin aging, cataracts, corneal burns and the formation of skin cancer.
- UVR penetrate deep into the skin support structure, affecting the skin's immune system and increasing cancer risks.
- Eighty percent of lifetime exposure to sunlight occurs before the age 18.
- UVA rays penetrate glass/windows.
- Eighty percent of damaging rays can get through clouds.
- Even one blistering sunburn in childhood could result in the development of melanoma later in life.
- Sixty percent of the day's sunburning radiation occurs between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Reflection from sand, water and white surfaces, such as a deck or bulkhead on boats, results in substantial UVR exposure.
- Heat and brightness are not indicators of UV intensity.
How sunscreens and sunblocks work
- Sunblocks (i.e., physical sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium oxide) reflect, scatter rays and act as a barrier to UVR.
- Sunscreens (chemical) absorb UVA and UVB rays.
- It has been determined microscopically that sun damage can be reversed by using sunscreens.
- Sunscreens are labeled with a sun protection factor (SPF). For example, with an SPF 15 it takes 15 times as much sun exposure to get a sunburn as compared to no sunscreen at all.
Sunscreen application guidelines
- Replace sunscreens yearly.
- Cover all exposed surfaces, including tops of ears, scalps where there is thinning or no hair, noses and bony surfaces.
- Water-resistant sunscreens lose their SPF after 40 minutes in water; waterproof sunscreens after 90 minutes. Re-apply as needed.
- Apply sunscreen lip balm to lips.
Sunscreen for babies and infants
- Avoid sun exposure, and do not use sunscreens on infants younger than 6 months.
- Keep infants and young children out of the sun's peak rays.
- Use umbrellas, canopies and wide-brimmed hats to stay in the shade.
- When applying sunscreen, lightly rub sunscreen in your hands first, then apply to child's face.
- Sunscreen sticks "stay put" more effectively and are less prone to get into eyes.
- Use fragrance-free sunscreen to avoid attracting stinging insects.
- For fidgety children, try spritz-on sunscreens.
Sunscreen for children
- Children spend three times longer in the sun than adults.
- Creams and lotions are less drying for young skin.
- Set an example for your child by using sunscreens every day.
- Children like sunscreen "glitter"; SPF is low, but better than no sunscreen at all.
- Teaching children to put on sunscreen every day should be as important as teaching them to brush their teeth.
- Select a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or greater; broad spectrum sunscreens protect best from UVA and UVB rays.
- Apply sunscreens every day regardless of the season.
- Apply 15-30 minutes before going outdoors; re-apply every two hours.
- Do not spare the sunscreen; 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) will cover unexposed surfaces on the average adult.
Sunscreen for teens
- Acne-prone teens should use a gel or alcohol based product.
- Sunscreens should not be used to increase sun exposure time.
- Chronic tanning eventually leads to skin cancer, wrinkling, leathery skin and photo aging
- Avoid tanning booths. Sun-bed use is a risk factor in the formation of melanoma.
- Topical creams for artificial tan do not protect from the sun's rays unless they contain sunscreen.
Sunscreen for adults and the elderly
- Sunscreen practices applied in youth and middle age should continue in elderly years.
- Persons with dry skin should select creams or moisturizers with an SPF of 15 or higher.
- Natural processes in aging skin include a decline in the skin's ability to repair damage produced by sun exposure due to a less effective immune system in the skin.
- Cumulative photo damage results in thin, damaged skin that will worsen as more sun damage continues--sunscreen those rays!
- The skin is less effective at sweating and cooling; elderly persons should wear regular lightweight, tightly woven clothing covering exposed surfaces, and should plan activities when the sun is not directly overhead and the air is cooler.
- Most elderly people get enough vitamin D from exposure to UVRs; concerned individuals should consider vitamin D supplements.
Other sun protection measures
- Wrap-around sunglasses block ninety-nine percent of UVA and UVB rays. Purchase contact lenses that offer UVR protection.
- Select hats with a 3-4" brim or front and back flaps.
- Tightly woven clothing that covers all exposed skin acts almost as a total shield from UVRs.
- Typical summer fabrics have an SPF of 6.5; less if wet.
- Watch the clock. Avoid UVR between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Seek shade; thick tree = SPF 15, canopy of trees = SPF 30.