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Sunscreen - Your Last Line of Defense

Sunscreen - Your Last Line of Defense

Most Americans know that excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause cancer. Even so, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. While sunscreen is a great tool, it shouldn’t be your first line of defense. The best protection against skin cancer and premature skin aging brings us back to the not-so-sexy basics:

  • Covering up – wide-brimmed hats, long sleeves, and long pants/skirts & sunglasses
  • Shade – find it or bring it
  • Time of day – try to stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Check your local UV Index – type in your zip code

When it comes to selecting the right sunscreen, the number of options can easily overwhelm even the savviest consumer. Here’s what you need to look for:

  • Select a “broad spectrum” sunblock, which shields you from UVA and UVB rays. Others only block UVB rays.
  • Use a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Treat each SPF level equally, applying just as much sunscreen just as often. Reapply at least every two hours and even more often if you are in the water.
  • Sunscreen takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb. Apply before going outdoors.
  • No sunscreen is waterproof. If a sunscreen label claims to be “water-resistant” or “sweat-resistant,” it simply means the sunscreen remains effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating.
  • Avoid sunscreens that contain the chemical oxybenzone.

And of course, stay away from tanning beds, sunbathing and burning.

If you have a suspicious spot on your skin, Baton Rouge General is hosting a free skin cancer screening on June 13. Click here for more details.

William Russell

William Russell, MD
Baton Rouge General Pennington Cancer Center

Phone: (225) 763-4300