Staying Sun-Safe this Summer

78781036The predictions are already in: plenty of blue skies and lots to do outdoors. While you’re enjoying the lazy days of summer, don’t forget about that sunscreen. Yes, we’ve all heard it over and over – use sunscreen.  But are you familiar with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling rules for sunscreen?

There are two forms radiation from the sun – Ultraviolet A (UVA), which is thought to be responsible for premature aging and wrinkling of the skin, and Ultraviolet B (UVB), which primarily causes sunburn,” says Dr. Melissa Montoya Celi of Memorial Hermann Medical Group at Northwest.  “But both UVA and UVB rays increase your risk for skin cancers, including melanoma.”

Sunscreens with a high sun protection factor (SPF) were meant to protect from UVB rays, but not necessarily UVA radiation.  Now, however, under FDA regulations, sunscreens labeled “broad spectrum” have been proven to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.  And products labeled both “broad spectrum” and “SPF 15”(or higher) can lower the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging when used with other sun protection warnings, such as limiting mid-day sun and wearing hats and cover-ups when outside.  Sunscreen products also can’t be labeled as “waterproof”, only “water resistant”, and the labels must include a time limit of either 40 or 80 minutes before the sunscreen is ineffective.

So when you buy sunscreen this summer, pick on that’s labeled “broad spectrum” and has an SPF of 15 or higher.  “Note that there’s really no need to buy a product with an SPF higher than 30, as the higher levels essentially provide the same protection as the SPF 30 products,” Dr. Celi says.  “Just remember to use a golf-ball size amount of lotion and reapply every two hours.”  Stay safe!

For more information on Dr. Celi, visit http://mhmg.memorialhermann.org/physiciansearchmh/PhysicianDetail.aspx?provid=392856