How to apply sunscreen for effective protection against sunburn, skin cancer and premature aging

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (May 14, 2013) —

Sunscreen can protect your skin against the effects of the sun, yet it is not as effective unless it’s applied correctly. A new video from the American Academy of Dermatology, “Sunscreen: How to Apply,” demonstrates dermatologists’ tips for applying sunscreen for optimum protection.

“People who get sunburned usually didn’t use enough sunscreen, didn’t reapply it after being in the sun, or used an expired product,” said Amanda Friedrichs, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in private practice in Sycamore, Ill. “It’s important that people take the time to choose an effective sunscreen and properly apply it.” 

Dr. Friedrichs recommends people follow these tips when applying sunscreen: 
  1. Choose sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, is water resistant, and provides broad-spectrum coverage, which means it protects you from UVA and UVB rays. 
  2. Apply sunscreen generously before going outdoors. It takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. If you wait until you are in the sun to apply sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn. 
  3. Use enough sunscreen. Most adults need at least one ounce of sunscreen, about enough to fill a shot glass or the amount you can hold in your palm, to fully cover all exposed areas of your body. Rub the sunscreen thoroughly into your skin.
  4. Apply sunscreen to all bare skin. Remember your neck, face, ears, tops of your feet and legs. For hard‐to‐reach areas like your back, ask someone to help you or use a spray sunscreen. If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a wide‐brimmed hat. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15.
  5. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours to remain protected, or immediately after swimming or excessively sweating.
“Your skin is exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays every time you go outside, even on cloudy days and in the winter, so remember to always use sunscreen when outdoors,” said Dr. Friedrichs. 

For more skin cancer prevention tips, visit the Academy’s SpotSkinCancer.org to learn how to perform a skin self-exam, download a body mole map for tracking changes in your skin, and find free skin cancer screenings in your area. Those affected by skin cancer also can share their story on the website and download free materials to educate others in their community. SPOT Skin Cancer™ is the American Academy of Dermatology’s campaign to create a world without skin cancer through public awareness, community outreach programs and services, and advocacy that promote the prevention, detection, and care of skin cancer.

The “Sunscreen: How to Apply” video is posted to the Academy’s website and YouTube channel. This video is part of the Dermatology A to Z: Video Series, which offers relatable videos that demonstrate tips people can use to properly care for their skin, hair and nails. A new video in the series will be posted to the Academy’s website and the YouTube channel each month. 

Celebrating 75 years of promoting skin, hair and nail health
Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 17,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or www.aad.org. Follow the Academy on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology) or Twitter (@AADskin).

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