Health Topics Category Index
Health Topics for Medical Departments
Department of Dermatology
Safe Sun Tips for Adults
Department of Dermatology
Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed
Creation Date: Summer 2000
Last Revision Date: April 2002
- Anyone can sunburn.
- Sun induced skin cancers are the most common cancers of Caucasian adults.
- The incidence of skin cancer is increasing in epidemic proportions in our
- The risk of developing a melanoma, a deadly skin cancer, doubles every 10
- Protecting skin from the sun's rays could prevent about 80% of skin cancers.
- Harmful ultraviolet rays (UV) reflect off water and light colored surfaces,
such as concrete, water, sand and snow. UV rays also reach below the surface
Sunscreen Tips For Adults
- Use every day of the year. Even on cloudy days up 80%
of the sun's harmful rays reach earth.
- Wear a sunscreen everyday that has at least a Sun
Protection Factor (SPF) of 15.
- Sunscreens work by absorbing most of the sun's rays
before they penetrate the skin, but some still get through.
- Sunblocks such as zinc oxide or titanium oxide block
or reflect the sun's rays.
- Water Resistant sunscreens protect skin for 40 minutes
of water exposure. Waterproof sunscreens protect for 80
- Use plenty. Studies have shown that the average person
uses about 1/2 the amount of sunscreen that the manufacturer used
when determining the SPF value. The average adult requires one
ounce (oz) of sunscreen for adequate total body coverage. Children
require about half this amount.
- Apply to dry skin about 15 to 30 minutes
before going outdoors.
- Reapply after sweating, swimming or toweling off.
- Understand Sun Protection Factors (SPF). A SPF of 8
filters out 86% of ultraviolet radiation. SPF 15 blocks 92% of
damaging rays and SPF 30 blocks 96% of ultraviolet rays. Remember
. . . apply sunscreen to lips, ears and exposed scalp.
- Spray, Gel and Lotion forms are now available. Sprays
work best on the body and are fun for children. Gels work well for
oily skin or when working and sweating. Lotions help dry
- Stick balms are great for lips and ears. These can
also be used around the eyes to avoid stinging.
Other Important Tips
- Wear Hats. Each inch of hat brim can lower your
lifetime risk of skin cancer by 10%. A hat brim of four inches or
greater is recommended. Make certain that the top and brim of a
straw hat have sunproof liners in place.
- Minimize sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when
the worst and greatest quantity of ultraviolet light exists. If
your shadow is longer than your are tall, it is okay to be
- Wear protective eyewear. Sunglasses with UV-blocking
filters are very important. The eye is the second most common site
in which melanoma develop.
- Some medications can increase sensitivity to the sun's
rays. Certain antibiotics, birthcontrol pills, diuretics,
antihistamines and antidepressants may cause increased sensitivity
to the sun. Dress accordingly and take extra precautions if you
are taking any of these medications.
- Discourage use of tanning parlors. Tanning devices can
damage the skin and eyes as much as direct sunlight and have been
linked to increased risk of developing melanoma.
- Check the UV Index each day and dress accordingly. The
UV Index is a prediction of the sun's UV radiation on any given
day at noon. Check the Internet, your local newpaper, television
or radio for your local daily UV Index.
- Shop for "safari" type, light-weight, vented clothing
that is designed for maximal comfort as well as sun
- UV-blocking plastic film applied to the inside of the
windows of your house or car can greatly decrease the amount of
ultraviolet rays reaching your skin.