Dermatologic Disease Awareness and Teledermatology


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The Do’s and Don’ts of Sunscreen

We’ve all done it: you’re heading to the beach and grab any old bottle of sunscreen, spray or slather it on when you get there and feel protected for the rest of the day. But did you know that not all sunscreens are the same? Or that there is actually a proper way to put on sunscreen. Do you know the number of times to reapply in a day? Now you may be thinking, this is a lot of thought just to put into your sunscreen, but having the basics down could be the key to preventing skin cancer, the most common form of cancer, but also the most preventable.

What SPF should you go with?

Picking a sunscreen SPF is important but can lead to false sense of security when it comes to being out in the sun. Just because you choose a high SPF does not mean you can spend more time in the sun without reapplication. So, before you go and splurge on SPF 75 just so you don’t have to reapply often, learn what SPF you should really choose. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a minimum of SPF 30, which blocks 97 percent of UVB rays, and a maximum of SPF 50, which blocks 98 percent of the sun’s UVB rays. Any higher than SPF 50, there isn’t very much of a difference.

What sunscreen is best?


Just a few years ago, the best sunscreen meant choosing the highest SPF, but now we know its not about the highest SPF but instead trying to find one that blocks UVA and UVB rays. These sunscreens are labeled broad spectrum or multi-spectrum. To get the benefit of a multi-spectrum sunscreen, look for those that contain ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, or zinc oxide. These ingredients block both UVA and UVB rays.

If you’re looking for a sunscreen without harsh chemicals or if you have sensitive skin try to get a sunscreen that doesn't contain para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) or benzephenones. These can irritate sensitive skin. It is also helpful to have a separate sunscreen for your face that won’t irritate your pores or cause pimples.


The type of sunscreen or brand to use is up to your personal preferences. Whether you prefer a certain brand like Banana Boat or an organic brand like Badger Balm, or a consistency like a spritz or like a cream, just make sure you know how to apply it correctly.

How do you apply sunscreen correctly?


Believe it or not there is a correct and incorrect way to apply sunscreen. Whether using a spray or a cream, it is always helpful to have someone else help you apply sunscreen so you reach all exposed areas of your body. If using a spray sunscreen, don’t rush the process and be thorough. Hold the nozzle 1-2 inches away from the skin, hold for a few seconds in an area and then rub it in. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends sunscreens be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin and then reapply the same amount every two hours.

Areas to pay particular attention to include:


•       Feet

•       Hands

•       Back and sides of the neck

•       Behind the ears

•       Eyes

•       Lips

•       Scalp

So, whether you are going to the beach or just going out for a walk, make putting sunscreen on a part of your daily routine. It’s an easy and simple addition that could mean avoiding sun damage and skin cancer.