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Staying Smart About Sunscreen

Dec 21, 2017

Summer holidays can be a fantastic time of the year, but we’ve all felt the sting of regret after enjoying a long day in the sun.

There are plenty of ways to prevent sunburn, and for many of us the simplest is sunscreen.

Before you start lathering it all over your skin there are a couple of things you should pay attention to on your sunscreen label. The first is the SPF, or sun protection factor. This measures the level of sun the sunscreen will filter, so the higher the number the less sun your skin will absorb.

Another is the term ‘broad-spectrum’. This means that the sunscreen will protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. While UVB rays are predominantly the ones which cause sunburn, both types can be damaging to the skin.

There are plenty of myths about sunscreen that do the rounds each summer, and it’s important to remember that there’s no truth to any of them. Here are just a few of the big ones:

  1. Make-up with an SPF means you don’t need sunscreen.
  2. Wearing an SPF 50+ sunscreen means that you can stay out in the sun longer than while wearing an SPF 30 sunscreen.
  3. If you tan, rather than burn, the sun won’t do as much damage to your skin and you need less sun protection.
  4. You need a lot of sun to get enough Vitamin D, so it’s best not to always sunscreen.
  5. It’s possible to get a ‘safe tan’, and a base level tan will protect you.

It’s important to apply sunscreen correctly to maximise its effectiveness. It should be applied about 20 minutes prior to sun exposure, and then every two hours afterwards. You should also be reapplying it if you’ve been swimming, towel drying yourself, or working up a sweat.

The average adult should use about 35mL of sunscreen for each application, and SunSmart has a calculator that can show you how much is right for you.

Sometimes, despite a thorough application of sunscreen, a little bit of sun slips through the cracks and sunburn is the result. While this is usually no cause for any immediate concern, it is important to recognise when sunburn becomes a real problem.

If you have extensive blisters or pain, have been burnt over a very large area, or are experiencing headaches, vomiting, dizziness or fever, you should seek medical help.

Contact us today to find out how our Programmed Health Professionals team can help yours as this summer heats up.

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