Wondering what type of sunscreen you should wear this summer? Physician Assistant, Lauren Zanda, shines some light on sun exposure and sunscreen in this week's Medical Blog.

Sun Exposure and Sunscreen

What types of sunscreen are there?

The Active ingredients of sunscreens can be either minerals (eg zinc oxide) that provide a physical barrier to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, or organic chemicals that absorb UV rays.


What is SPF and what SPF is best?

SPF stands for sun protection factor and is an indicator of how much protection the sunscreen offers against ultraviolet B (UVB; sunburn) rays. You should look for a sunscreen that is labeled as broad-spectrum, which means it protects against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and UVB rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommend the following: sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50 on exposed skin, depending on the weather. You should not use a high SPF just to stay out longer in the sunshine. If you anticipate intense or prolonged sun exposure, you should use a high SPF sunscreen and reapply frequently.


How much sunscreen do I need?

You should apply sunscreen generously to all exposed skin 20 minutes before exposure. You should reapply sunscreen after sweating, rubbing the skin, drying off with a towel or swimming. A good rule of thumb is the "teaspoon rule" which means a generous teaspoon of sunscreen to each leg, arm, face, neck and front and back of torso.


Using sunscreen is very important for skin health and helps to decrease the risk of sunburn, aged skin and skin cancer.


- Lauren Zanda, PA

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