Check-Up: How much sunblock should I use?

October 28, 2019

Dear r eaders,

Chelsie asks Check Up what is the best level of sunblock to apply to her skin daily to help prevent skin cancer.

Her close relative was treated for this recently and she thinks that prevention is much better than cure. She is planning on applying sunscreen daily from now on.

Sunscreen is also known as sunblock and refers to oils, lotions, gels, foams or sprays which are applied topically to the skin and which absorb or reflect some of the ultraviolet radiation sent to Earth from the sun.

Sunscreen helps protect the skin from sunburn, wrinkle formation, sagging skin and mole formation. The regular use of sunscreen has also been proven to protect against skin cancer.

Sunscreens can block UVA and /or UVB ultraviolet radiation from the sun. They must block UVA radiation to prevent skin cancer.

UVB protects against sunburn, and both UVA and UVB protect against skin cancer.

Because of this, the recommended sunscreens contain protection against both and give broad spectrum protection against the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet rays.

In addition, sunscreens are labelled with the sun-protection factor (SPF) which they provide.

SPF 15 means that only 1/15th of the sun’s radiation will penetrate to the skin once the sunscreen with SPF 15 is adequately applied.

Usually a tube of sunscreen is good for three years use, after this the effective use is doubtful.

Using sunscreen with SPF 15 is adequate to aid with the prevention of skin cancer once the sunscreen is applied properly at the recommended thickness of sunscreen.

However, many people do not layer on the sunscreen adequately over their body.

The better solution would be to apply a sunscreen with SPF 30, which would provide adequate protection even when layered on thinly.

Of course, if you actually have skin cancer, using sunscreen with SPF 60 to 90 or greater is best. Sunscreen should be applied every two hours to give best results.

Zinc oxide applied to the skin also provides a good sunblock, preventing both UVA and UVB rays from penetrating the skin.

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