By Linda Brown, MD
Finally...summer weather is here! Along with our favorite (socially distanced) outdoor adventures, including trips to the beach and trails, comes the importance of using sunscreen. Sunscreen is proven to prevent skin cancer by protecting you from the sun’s harmful rays. It also helps avoid painful sunburns.
Here are some important things to keep in mind about using sunscreen — still essential even while wearing masks!
- SPF matters. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Always apply sunscreen. Use sunscreen whenever you are outside — no matter how strong the sun’s rays are.
- Ensure complete coverage. Apply enough sunscreen to cover all of your exposed skin. This means about one ounce for adults. Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
- Provide shade for babies. Babies younger than six months old should not use sunscreen. If they are outdoors, keep young babies in the shade as much as possible. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses can also help protect their skin - and make for adorable photos!
- Sunscreen is okay for children six months and older. Parents of infants six months and older can apply water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to their child’s exposed skin, based on the instructions on the label.
- Check the expiration date. Some sunscreens have an expiration date on the bottle. If the expiration date has passed, discard the sunscreen. The FDA requires that all sunscreens retain their original strength for at least three years. If a date is not on the bottle, write the date you purchase the sunscreen on the bottle and then discard it after three years.
- Be prepared. Always have sunscreen handy wherever you go this summer — keep a bottle in the car, in a diaper bag, in your bike basket, and other places that are convenient.
- Apply sunscreen under your mask. Most masks do not protect against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. It is best to cover your face with sunscreen before putting on your mask.
Emerson Hospital, in partnership with IMPACT Melanoma, is pleased to sponsor 18 sunscreen dispensers throughout Acton, Concord, Bedford, Westford, Hudson, Chelmsford, Lincoln and Maynard this summer. These dispensers are for public use and are located in high-traffic locations such as parks, beaches, rail trails, and athletic fields. An ounce of sunscreen is worth a pound of cure!
Dr. Linda Brown with Emerson Family Medicine provided this information. To make an appointment for you, your child, or other family members, please contact Emerson Family Medicine of Maynard at 978-318-1870.