Sunscreen Basics: What to Know

Before having fun in the sun, be sure to follow some sunscreen basics.

It's summertime and the living is easy! However understanding all the sunscreen lingo can sometimes be a bit of a challenge—UVA, UVB, SPF, broad spectrum and more. In honor of UV Safety Month, here's what you should know.

• Using sunscreen is a must. The American Cancer Society advises wearing sunscreen as a means of helping to prevent skin cancer, the most common type of cancer. In addition to reducing your risk, wearing sunscreen also protects your skin from the aging effects of the sun. Wear sunscreen every day that you're outside, even if it's cloudy or cold.

• The type of sunscreen you use matters. Follow the American Academy of Dermatology's recommendations and use a water resistant broad-spectrum sunscreen (meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays) that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more. A spray sunscreen is often easiest to apply to most body parts, while a cream can be a good choice for the face and a stick is best for your lips.

• It's important to apply it correctly and to reapply. Most people don't use enough sunscreen. It should be applied generously to all exposed skin 15 minutes prior to being outdoors, and should be reapplied every two hours or after swimming or sweating profusely.

Learn more about skin cancer by reading the Medical Center Arlington online Health Information pages. To schedule a skin cancer screening, talk with your doctor or dermatologist. If you need help finding a physician, use our online Find a Physician service or call us at 1-855-868-6262 for a referral.

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