M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Advises Protection Against Sun Exposure

Before leaving home for a day of outdoor activity, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is advising everyone to take appropriate precautions to ensure that your and your family's skin is well-protected. According to Dr. Susan Chon, assistant professor of dermatology, the majority of all skin cancers are caused by the sun.

According to Chon, a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is a good choice for most people. One ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill a shot glass) is considered sufficient to properly cover sun-exposed areas. To get the most protection from sunscreen, generously reapply throughout the day. This is especially important because factors such as humidity, perspiration, and uneven product application can cause sunscreen to lose its effectiveness.

Chon recommends gathering the following items before heading outdoors.

  • Sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater
  • Lip balm with SPF 30
  • Hat with a brim or cap
  • Long-sleeved shirt (preferably sun protective clothing)
  • Sunglasses with UV protection

"These are great items to keep handy in your bag to prepare for the sun as it intensifies throughout the day," Chon said.

She suggests the following time line for when to best use these items.

Morning: 8-10 a.m.

  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 30, at least 30 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
  • Wear a hat, sunglasses, and lip balm.

Midday: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (hottest time of the day)

  • Seek shade for extra protection.
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt with a hat and sunglasses.
  • Reapply sunscreen and lip balm every two hours.

Afternoon: 3-5 p.m.

  • Keep wearing a hat and sunglasses.
  • Reapply sunscreen and lip balm every two hours.

"Remember, if you are sweating or swimming, you may need to reapply more often," Chon said as she reminded people to avoid reflective surfaces such as water, sand, snow, and concrete. "You can burn from indirect exposure to the sun, too."

For more information on skin cancer prevention and sun-safety tips, visit www.mdanderson.org/cancerawareness.

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