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Staying safe in the sun

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 9:15 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As you prepare for a weekend at the beach, the pool, or a July 4th cookout, experts want to make sure you’re staying safe in the sun and remembering to pack sun protection.

Sun protection factor, or SPF is one of the most important things you should be looking for in your sunscreen.

“That’s the number that’s going to tell you how well or how much of the UV rays that the lotion or cream or thing that you’re using is actually blocking. So, the higher the SPF number, than the more UV rays are being blocked,” UAB Nurse Practitioner, Bryan Combs.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of at least 30, but people who burn more easily may want to consider a higher protection.

Combs said creams work better than sprays.

“Spray is the one that for most people it is the easiest to apply, you can do it yourself and spray it on. The problem is it’s not as effective because people don’t apply near enough. So, when using sprays most people only apply about 25 to 50% of actually what they need,” Combs explained.

Experts said no sunscreen offers complete protection, but it is important to apply it often, and at least 15 minutes before you head outdoors.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer, but dermatologists said being proactive can prevent more than 3 million skin cancer cases a year.

“If we do that stuff earlier, we have a much greater chance of decreasing those numbers as we get older or decreasing our risks as we get older. When it comes to skin cancer, a lot of it is something that happens over a period of time. So, we need to protect ourselves early to prevent that risk down the road,” Combs said.

He added that it doesn’t matter how light or dark your skin tone is, everyone should be wearing sunscreen to protect their skin.

You may also want to consider wearing other protective coverings like sunglasses and hats, and of course staying hydrated.

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