The summer months are famous for “fun in the sun”, but too much sun can lead to painful sunburns, blisters, and, in some cases, even skin cancer. When it comes to shielding your skin from the sun, the type of sunscreen you choose is as important as how you use it. However, with so many lotions, sprays and gels to choose from, how do you know which sunblock will actually prevent sunburns and skin cancer?
For travel nurses starting assignments this summer, make sure you are prepared to protect your skin from the damages of the summer sun by following these tips to maximize your sunscreen’s protection.
Get UVA and UVB protection
Always opt for a sunscreen that provides both UVA and UVB protection. This way, you’ll protect your skin from ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays, which cause sunburns and skin damage, as well as ultraviolet-A (UVA) rays that increase your risk for skin cancer. Also make sure the sunscreen you choose contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients help to block both UVA and UVB rays.
Choose SPF 30 or higher
Always use a sunscreen with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 30 or higher. The SPF in your sunscreen absorbs and reflects the sun’s rays so they don’t burn or damage your skin. Keep in mind, though, that higher isn’t that much better when it comes to SPF numbers because the protection doesn’t increase proportionately with the designated SPF number. For example, while SPF 30 absorbs 97% of the sun’s burning rays, SPF 50 absorbs just slightly more at 98%.
Apply sunscreen early and liberally
Your skin can take up to a half-hour to absorb sunscreen. So, plan ahead and apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and don’t skimp on the sunscreen. You should apply 1 ounce of sunscreen, the size of a golf ball, to every part of your body that is going to be exposed to the sun which includes your ears, feet and back of the neck.
Reapply sunscreen every two hours
Forget all-day protection. Sunscreen wears off after just a couple of hours. So, make sure you lather on another golf ball-sized amount every two hours. In some cases, you should reapply sunscreen every 60 to 90 minutes. If using a spray sunscreen, it needs to be reapplied more often because it washes off more easily. Also, if you are swimming or sweating, sunscreen needs to be reapplied more often because water, snow and sand can intensify the sun’s rays and cause a greater burn.
Don’t rely on sunscreen alone
Unfortunately, sunscreen can’t completely prevent sunburns, blisters and skin cancer. However, you can give your skin some added protection by wearing:
- lip balm with SPF 30 or higher
- a tightly woven hat with a wide brim
- wrap-around sunglasses with UV protection
- a tightly woven, dark long-sleeved shirt or special sun-protective clothing
You can also protect your skin by seeking shade from the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. That’s when the sun’s harmful UV rays are strongest.
No sunscreen provides 100% protection from the sun, but by taking precautions and being mindful about apply (and reapplying) sunscreen properly, you can significantly reduce your chances for sunburns and skin cancer.
Contact MedPro today for your next summer travel assignment!