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Sunscreen 101

As spring becomes summer, your children are probably looking forward to spending a lot of their time outside in the sun. Our friends at Old Town Med have some tips to protect you and your kids from the summer sun’s UV rays, no matter where you may be this summer season.

Because skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, it’s crucial to take precautionary measures before sun exposure. One in every five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lifetime. An even scarier statistic states that one person dies every hour from the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma.

Exposure to sun rays is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. Simple, daily actions such as seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and generously applying sunscreen spare you a painful sunburn or even skin cancer.

Selecting the correct sunscreen is also an easy way to prevent harm from UV rays and reduce risk of early skin aging. There are two different types of sunscreen: physical and chemical.

Physical sunscreen works as a shield, deflecting the sun’s rays as it sits on the surface of the skin. If you have sensitive skin, physical sunscreen is the choice for you. Look for the active ingredients, Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide.

Though chemical sunscreens tend to be easier to rub into the skin without leaving a white residue, this particular type of sunscreen works as a sponge and absorbs the sun’s rays and might not protect agains long term damage as effectively as Physical sunscreen. Active ingredients include Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Homosalate and Octinoxate.

If you have a hard time selecting the right sunscreen, The American Academy of Dermatology concludes that any sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, water-resistant and has an SPF of 30 or higher effectively protects you from the sun. Broad-spectrum means the sunscreen protects the skin from ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays, both of which are skin cancer causing. SPF indicates how well a sunscreen protects you from sunburn and should be at least 30 for adequate sun protection.

Also, sunscreens may be water resistant, but no sunscreen is completely waterproof or sweat-proof. You should reapply every two hours, especially after sweating or swimming!

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