Happy National Sunscreen Day!
Published: May 22, 2024
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National Sunscreen Day 2024

 

  • Who should wear sunscreen?
    • Everyone! Children especially need to be protected from the sun's burning rays due to their sensitive skin. Most sun damage occurs in childhood and so protection should start at a young age.
       
  • What three things should I look for when picking out sunscreen?
    • Broad-spectrum protection (UVA/UVB)
      •  This describes a sunscreen that protects the skin from both types of harmful UV rays, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB).
    • SPF 30 (or higher)
      •  SPF or Sun Protection Factor describes how well a sunscreen protects you from sunburn. This number tells you how much UVB light sunscreen fills out. For example, SPF 30 filters out 97% of UVB rays. 
    • Water resistant
      •  This tells you that the sunscreen will stay on wet or sweaty skin for a while before you need to reapply.Typical water resistant sunscreens should last about 40 minutes. Sunscreen labeled as very water resistant can stay effective for 80 minutes in the water.  

         

  • When should I use sunscreen?
    • Every day! Do not assume that the sun is dangerous only when it is shining brightly. Even on cloudy days, up to 80% of the sun's harmful UV rays can penetrate the clouds.

       

  • How much and how often do I need to apply?
    • For the face, about a teaspoon of sunscreen is usually fine. For the body, about an ounce of sunscreen. Think about the size of a plastic medicine cup. 
    •  You should apply sunscreen about 15 minutes before going outdoors. It takes time for sunscreen to be absorbed in the skin! You need to apply every 2 hours, especially after swimming or sweating. 

       
  • What else can I wear for sun protection besides sunscreen?
    • Sun-Protective clothing. 
      • No sunscreen can filter out 100% of the sun's UVB rays.  Look for lightweight fabrics and dark or bright colors. Long sleeves work best. Sunglasses with UV protection and a hat with a wide brim (one that can cover your nose and ears) are also useful accessories! 

         
  • Are there any special recommendations for babies and toddlers?
    • For children younger than 6 months of age:
      •  The best protection is keeping your little ones in the shade. Avoid the sun during peak ultraviolet rays, usually between 10am- 4pm. Always dress in sun protective clothing.Try to prevent overheating by making sure the baby is hydrated.
      •  If prolonged sun exposure is unavoidable, small amounts of sunscreen may be used on the face and back of the hands. Rub the sunscreen in well. 
    • For children 6 months and older: 
      • Along with shade and sun protective clothing, use a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients are less likely to irritate a baby’s sensitive skin. 

 

  • What are the key differences between physical sunscreens vs chemical sunscreens?
    • Physical sunscreens, sometimes called mineral sunscreens, mainly contain two ingredients: zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. This type of sunscreen sits on the skin’s surface and acts as a barrier to block UV rays. They are usually thicker and can be hard to completely rub into the skin. As such, they might leave the skin with a white sheen. However, these sunscreens tend to work as soon as they are applied. Physical sunscreens are more moisturizing as they are heavier and are best recommended for children with sensitive skin.
    • Chemical sunscreens contain more active ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, and avobenzone. They protect the skin by absorbing the UV rays and converting them into energy (heat) before they harm the skin. Chemical sunscreens aren’t as thick as physical ones and can be rubbed into the skin without leaving the white sheen. However, they take between 15-30 minutes to start working and can be more irritating. 

 

Whichever you choose, remember that any sunscreen use is better than none.  The best sunscreen is the sunscreen you and your family will use every time you’re in the sun. 

Happy summer everyone!

 

This blog was written by Pediatric Associates Plantation Office's Ritchelle Dubrovskiy, D.O., F.A.A.P.