Picking the Right Sunscreen

By April Larson MD

One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer, making it far and away the most common cancer threat. While limiting sun exposure is always the best way to avoid sun damage there are other ways to be preventive. ​

Sunscreen
The watchwords for skin cancer continue to be prevention and early detection; recent developments should help, particularly when it comes to prevention.

Sunscreen continues to be an important tool in fighting against skin cancer, including deadly melanoma. New sunscreen labeling regulations make it easier to make good sunscreen choices. Here are some things to watch for
  • Look for a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Those who are especially at risk for skin cancer, including those with fair skin, those with a history of skin cancer or exposure, and men aged 50 or older, should choose a sunblock with an SPF of at least 50.
  • Look for the words “broad spectrum.” That means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Look for “water resistant” sunscreen. Makers can no longer label sunscreen “waterproof.” Water resistant sunblock should protect you for 40 to 80 minutes in the water, but the recommendation remains that you reapply as soon as you get out of the water, and every two hours otherwise.
That reapplication is often a problem. Find a way that works for you. I start with a cream before I leave for the day, and use a spray to reapply later. Sunscreens now come in powder to use over makeup, and in gels, wipes, and sprays. Hopefully more options will help people get over issues with reapplying.

If you have questions about skin cancer, including how to identify potential skin cancer, visit our site Southern Utah Plastic Surgery and Dermatology or check the American Academy of Dermatology website www.spotskincancer.org.