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(Don’t) Burn, Baby, Burn!

Skin cancer rates are on the rise, and it has become the most common form of cancer in the U.S. Yet more than a third of the country’s adult population has reported at least one sunburn in the past year, a clear sign of exposure to dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays.

How much is too much?

We’ve all heard the phrase “a healthy glow” about a golden tan, but tanning — whether from the sun or a tanning bed — is far from healthy. Tanning increases your risk of:

  • Premature skin aging — wrinkles and age spots
  • Damaged skin texture
  • Potentially blinding eye diseases1

Limit exposure

Avoiding the sun’s UV rays is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer.1

  • Seek shade and stay out of the sun, if you can, when UV rays are strongest — from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Be extra careful at higher altitudes where skin burns faster.
  • Limit exposure to water, sand, snow and concrete — surfaces that reflect light.
  • Use sun protection even on cloudy days, when certain types of UV rays can be stronger.
  • Rely on diet and supplements to get your vitamin D, not the sun.2,3

Use protection!

Use sunscreen but avoid products that combine sunscreen and insect repellent — reapplying it will expose you to too much of the repellent’s ingredients. Also, avoid spray tans and bronzers — they won’t protect your skin from UV rays.4

Choose sunscreens that:

  • Block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Are labeled with sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher.
  • Are water resistant — they’re more protective when you sweat.
  • Are products you will use consistently. Generally, creams are best for dry skin and the face, gels work well for hairy areas, and sticks are easier to apply near eyes. Mineral-based sunscreens — such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide — work well if you have sensitive skin.2, 3

Wear sunscreen every day and for best results, apply generously 15–30 minutes before you go outside to all exposed areas of your skin. Reapply after swimming or sweating, or about every two hours (or as often as the package suggests).2, 3

Cover up

In addition to sunscreen, the clothing you choose can protect you from harmful rays. Consider wearing:

  • A hat with a wide brim. This works better than a baseball cap or visor for shielding your whole face from the sun.
  • Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Loose-fitting, unbleached, tightly woven fabrics.
  • Special clothing that absorbs UV rays.3

 If you do have the misfortune of suffering a sunburn, talk to your pharmacist about ways that you can alleviate the pain — and make sure you ask him/her to point you to the best sun-protection products to help you avoid future damage to your skin!

Health Mart. Caring for you and about you. 


Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.