Sun Block Tips and Recommendations
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. Most skin cancers can be prevented through avoiding exposure to the sun. While complete avoidance of sun exposure is not practical, the use of sun blocking creams is an important part of overall skin cancer prevention.
Here are some useful tips on sun block use from our Miami dermatologists:
- Everyone, regardless of skin tone, should use a broad spectrum sun block with an SPF of at least 30.
- For best results, sun block should be reapplied approximately every 30 minutes during periods of intense sun exposure.
- Apply a sufficient amount of sun block to cover all sun exposed areas. Don't be afraid to apply a thick film, covering all unclothed skin including the ears, nose, the back of your neck, arms, etc.
- Allow time for the sun block to absorb into your skin before going outside. 20 to 30 minutes should be sufficient.
- There is no reliable way of measuring how resistant your sun block is to water. This depends on the duration, intensity and type of water-based activities you participate in. Therefore, frequent applications during water sports activities should be emphasized.
- Apply sun block every day, even during overcast days and even when you are not planning to encounter prolonged sun exposure.
- Do not rely on make-up or other skin care products that claim to include a sun block. These usually do not provide sufficient protection and may actually do more harm by giving a false sense of security in the sun. Therefore, always use a dedicated broad spectrum sun block.
- Make sure you are informed about the ingredients of your sun block. Just because it says "broad spectrum" doesn't mean that it provides adequate protection. Also, sun blocks that are not greasy or easy to apply are not always the most protective. Discuss your choice of sun blocks with your dermatologist.
- Use a protective sun blocking film (not just a tint) on your vehicle's windows to block as much ultraviolet rays as possible.
Remember, your skin is similar to a tape recorder. It never forgets. Every episode of sun exposure leaves an imprint within your skin cells that builds up over your lifetime. This is why even the short exposures (e.g. walking to your car in the morning) accumulate over the years and can cause just as much overall sun damage as do less frequent, intense exposures.