Choosing the correct SPF sunscreen

NOW: Choosing the correct SPF sunscreen

Have you ever struggled choosing which SPF to use in your sunscreen? There's plenty of sunshine and a very high UV index in the forecast, so protecting your skin is as important as ever this week.

Very high UV index for Wednesday and Thursday mean a burn time of 15 minutes

Most of us have the basics down in sun safety: a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen. The confusing part is which SPF should you use?

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using at least 30 SPF sunscreen. Kelly Losiniecki, a nurse practitioner in dermatology at the South Bend Clinic, broke down more of the basics.

"As long as you're at 30, I think that's a good amount," she explained. "I myself feel like if you're going to be out in the sun all day, that 50 does give you a little bit more protection."

There are some sunscreens with even higher SPF, but this might not be necessary to use.

"Once you get past 50, there really is not a significant benefit," Losiniecki says. "You will see a price increase with the 70 or 100 SPF, but you're really not getting much more protection than you are with 50."

For babies, she recommends using a sunscreen that says "baby" or "hypoallergenic" on it. Babies tend to be more prone to allergic reactions than adults. Baby versions typically don't have the allergens like normal sunscreen.

Sunscreen isn't the only way to protect your skin. Losiniecki mentioned the importance of covering your skin. This can be done with long sleeves, sunglasses, shade with an umbrella, a hat, and shoes.

Keep in mind with hats: mesh material on ball caps can still lead to a sunburn if you don't have a lot of hair. Additionally, your ears are exposed with ball caps, so make sure to put sunscreen on them.

You can also wear a UPF shirt or UPF hat. These clothing items actually block the sun's rays. This is a newer technology.

Even if you already have a tan, it's still important to take care of your skin.

"You always need the protection," Losiniecki says. "No matter if you are fair skinned or dark skinned, you can get skin cancer on any type of skin."

Many of her patients say they no longer go out in the sun, but damage on skin can show up years later.

"Unfortunately a lot of skin cancers arise from previous damage done years before," she laments. "But it's never too late. Even if you've never worn sunscreen before, it's still a good time to start now."

Remember to take care of yourself and lather on the sunscreen this week to avoid more problems down the road.

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