How Can One Protect Their Skin but Still Enjoy the Sun?

Doctor Answers 2

Excellent question but one that is difficult to answer...

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Excellent question but one that is difficult to answer.

The best protection is sunscreen. For most people a sunscreen with at least SPF 15, preferably SPF 30, will be sufficient. Technically the SPF (sun protection factor) measures a sunscreen's ability to protect from skin turning red. In general, this translates into protection from UV-B radiation, not UV-A radiation. Different protection systems are being devised to classify materials for their protection against UV-A radiation, less important but still important in protecting against skin cancers.

Another important concept is reapplication. Be sure to reapply sunscreen throughout the day. This includes when you're not necessarily in the sun but performing daily activities indoors and outdoors.

Of note, most glass protects against UV-B radiation, but not UV-A radiation, so there is still a sun exposure risk. For patients with risks factors for skin cancer including light skin, previous skin cancer, and family history among others, higher rated sunscreens may be necessary and a physician's opinion should be sought.

Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon

The number one way to protect your skin from the sun is...

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The number one way to protect your skin from the sun is by using a good sunblock with an SPF of 30 or higher. Make sure the label says that it is broad spectrum, meaning that is blocks UVA and UVB rays. The UVA rays don't cause a burn, so just because you aren't red doesn't mean you aren't getting sun damage.

The other great way to protect yourself is with sun protective clothing. There are several companies that make very fashionable hats and shirts, and even skirts, dresses, and pants, that provide sun protection. There is also a powder called Sun Guard (made by Rit) that you can add to your laundry to give your clothing a boost of SPF.

Jordana S. Gilman, MD
Washington Dermatologic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.