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With Spring Here, Use Sun Sense to Enjoy It
Date:3/21/2009

Experts offer advice on keeping skin safe from harmful rays

SATURDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- Spring brings warmer weather and more outdoor time for most Americans, and along with that comes the need to protect the skin from the sun.

Before heading out, suggests the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, remember to:

  • Avoid peak sun hours. The rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so staying indoors during these times is the best protection.
  • Wear the right sunscreen every day. Use products labeled for broad-spectrum protection -- to help block ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays -- and with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30. Slather on sunscreen about 20 minutes before going in the sun, using about an ounce (the size of a shot glass) to cover your entire body. Reapply every two to three hours spent outdoors. Also, use lip balm with an SPF rating.
  • Wear the right clothing. A typical cotton T-shirt offers protection equivalent to only SPF 6, far below the commonly recommended minimum of SPF 15. Wear clothing with a thicker weave or apply sunscreen under a thin, porous shirt. In addition, a hat with a full, wide brim gives added protection to the face, neck and scalp, and sunglasses help protect the eyes from damage.
  • Ignore skin type and base tans. Everyone can burn, regardless of skin pigmentation and even if already tanned. Sunscreen and clothing, not skin color, offer the best protection.

Sunscreen, in fact, should be worn regardless of what you're doing while outside, including swimming, the society suggests. Water doesn't protect against the sun's rays, so sunscreen and, if possible, a sun-protective bathing suit are recommended.

Other tips from the group include reminders that:

  • Breaks soothe but don't protect. Swimming and hanging in the shade
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