- Within the sun’s rays are two types of radiation; UVA and UVB.
- Sunburns are predominantly caused by UVB rays while UVA is most responsible for skin damage such as aging/wrinkles and some types of skin cancer.
How do I protect myself and my kids from the harmful effects of the sun?
- For everyone over the the age of 6 months, the use of sunscreen is recommended whenever you are going to be exposed to the sun.
- For infants under the age of 6 months, sunscreen use is not recommended.
- -Babies are born with thinner skin than older kids/adults, therefore it is easy for them to absorb the sunscreen into their skin, making it less effective. It is also a good idea to limit the baby’s exposure to different chemicals (exposure early in life can cause sensitivities when the child is older).
- For all ages, seeking shade whenever you are outside, wearing clothing to cover exposed areas of skin, and wearing a hat and sunglasses are all good measures to take to protect your skin and eyes from the sun.
Are there different types of sunscreens I can use?
- Yes. In fact, there are a variety of ingredients used to make commercially available sunscreen products.
- Sunscreen ingredients can normally be divided amongst two categories.
- Chemical filters absorb the sun’s rays and convert that energy into heat. There are lots of chemical filters available. However, many do not provide adequate UVA protection.
- Physical filters sit on the skin and reflect/scatter the sunlight. Sunscreens with these ingredients provide protection against both UVA and UVB radiation. When selecting a sunscreen, look for one that has Zinc oxide and/or Titanium dioxide.
How do I know which sunscreen to use?
- A good sunscreen will have:
- an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 (SPF 30 is usually recommended for both kids and adults). Remember, SPF values only refer to UVB protection.
- protection from both UVA and UVB radiation. Look for “broad spectrum” on the label, or check the ingredients list for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
How do I use the sunscreen once I’ve found a good one?
- Apply sunscreen to all areas of exposed skin generously and often. If at all possible, apply sunscreen 20 minutes prior to sun exposure. Re-application at least every 2 hours is recommended, more often if you are swimming or sweating (even if the sunscreen says it is waterproof/resistant).