There are a number of effective ways to prevent sunburn, including staying out of the sun during peak hours, sunscreen, and protective clothing. While these measures are important for everyone, they are especially important for children and people with fair skin.
Avoid Sun Exposure
It is important to prepare for sun exposure, especially if you plan to be out in the sun for an extended period of time or during the middle of the day, when the sun’s rays are strongest, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. .
Even on cloudy days, it is important to protect your skin because UV radiation can pass through the clouds and cause sunburn. In addition, UV rays can be reflected off of surfaces like sand, snow, cement, and water. Using two types of protection (shade/clothing plus sunscreen) is the best way to reduce sun exposure.
Areas that are shaded receive less UV radiation, and can reduce your chances of developing a sunburn. Trees, an umbrella, or a structure (eg, porch, tent) can help to provide shade. Sunscreen is still recommended while sitting in the shade because your skin is exposed to some UV rays, even in the shade.
Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen
There are a wide variety of sun-blocking agents (sunscreens) available to protect your skin from sunburn, including gels, lotions, sprays, and sticks. Sunscreen protects the skin by absorbing or reflecting UV radiation. The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is an indicator of how much protection the sunscreen offers against UVB (sunburn) rays. You should look for a sunscreen that is labeled as broad-spectrum, meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Use a minimum SPF of 15, and reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating. We recommend avoiding sunscreen in infants less than 6 months.
In addition to sunscreen, consider covering exposed skin with a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants. A hat made of tightly-woven material (eg, canvas) can provide shade for the face, ears, and back of the neck. Sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV ray protection can reduce your risk of cataracts (clouding in the eye’s lens); wraparound glasses provide the most complete protection.
Sun Tanning & Tanning Beds:
Tanning increases your skin’s production of melanin, which provides some minimal protection to the skin against further damage from UV radiation. However, the small benefit of tanning (protection from sunburn) does not outweigh the risks (skin cancer, aged skin).
Tanning beds use a mixture of ultraviolet rays, similar to the mixture emitted by the sun.. Tanning beds can cause sunburn and have been linked to an increased risk of melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer. Experts do not recommend using tanning beds, especially for those under age 18 years.