Individuals who apply sunscreen regularly may not actually be using enough of it at a time to adequately prevent sunburns, according to a new study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Sunscreen, the study found, was the most popular form of sun protection chosen by the 3,000 Caucasian adults who participated. In fact, 30% of those studied said they applied sunscreen when out in the sun for longer than one hour. Seeking shade was the second most popular form of sun protection with protective clothing options also being listed.
Startling is the fact that those who said they regularly apply sunscreen were at a 23% higher risk of sunburns, compared to those who rarely apply it.
While avoiding the sun, especially midday when its rays are strongest, is the best way to prevent sunburns and sun damage, applying the appropriate amount of sunscreen is key. For each body part that is exposed, like the legs or arms, a golf ball sized glob of sunscreen should be applied. This should be done half an hour before going outside so it has a chance to absorb and then be reapplied at least every two hours. If you get wet, sunscreen should be applied every 60 to 90 minutes.
People who say they regularly apply sunscreen are often likely not applying it correctly or often enough. Sunscreen should absorb at least 2mm for every square centimeter of skin. When reapplying, those who participated in a Brazilian study only used a quarter of what would be necessary for protection.
Though appropriate sunscreen application can help to prevent sunburn, other forms of protection, though less popular, may guard your skin better. Staying in the shade on sunny days is a prime form of protection from sun damage and burns, as is wearing a hat and clothing that does not leave your legs or arms exposed.
Proper sun protection, whether it comes in the form of correct sunscreen application or avoiding the sun’s rays in another manner, is important. Not only can it guard against the signs of premature aging like wrinkles and age spots, but it can prevent sunburns. Though sunburns may be uncomfortable for several days, in the long-term, they can increase your risk for skin cancer.
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