Q. What is the proper way to apply sunscreen? I went to the beach yesterday, and applied my sunscreen, yet still got a sunburn?
A. This is a great question, especially during the summertime! I am so sorry to hear about your sunburn, yet follow these simple steps to avoid further sun damage.
First of all, you must make sure to apply your sunscreen or sunblock at least 30 minutes PRIOR to sun exposure, so if you are at the beach, or outdoors and applying your sunscreen there, you already are at a higher risk of getting a burn, because the sunscreen needs to fully absorb into the skin before it will be effective at preventing sun damage. Please ensure the sunscreen is at least an SPF 30 or more and protects from both the UVA and the UVB rays. Please ensure that you are applying an adequate amount of sunscreen to the exposed areas of the body. You should be using at least a “shot glass” amount of sunscreen, which is 1.5 ounces, and applying that amount to the exposed areas of the skin.
Once the sunscreen has been absorbed for 30 minutes, it is effective at preventing sun damage for 2 hours. However, since any body of water reflects the sun’s rays and will make the sun more intense, it is recommended to reapply sunblock every hour, if you are the beach or lake, etc., and especially if you will be getting into the water. Most sunscreens which are water-resistant, are only resistant for about 60 minutes. Make sure to apply sunscreen on ALL exposed areas of the body. There are some common areas that tend to get missed during sunscreen application. The areas to remember to apply sunscreen include: the edge of the swimsuits, behind the ears and the tops of the ears, the neck, especially the back of the neck, the chest, the nose, and the tops of the feet and toes, as well as the fingers and the hands! Please pay special attention to the back and shoulders as well, as some of these places can be hard to reach, and it is best to have someone help you reapply your sunscreen on hard to reach areas. One area to not forget is the lips, as the lips can become burned and chapped due to sun exposure as well and it is recommended to use a lip balm with SPF 30 or more to help protect the lips as well.
It is also very important to wear sunglasses and protect your eyes from the sun as well. In addition to sunscreen application, it is recommended to wear a wide brimmed hat to further protect your skin from the sun. Another important tip is to avoid the sun during peak hours of sun exposure which is from 10 am -2 pm, and to seek shade whenever possible.
If you do happen to get a sunburn on any area of the skin treat it as soon as possible by placing cool towels on it and using a moisturizer that is made with aloe vera or soy, avoid moisturizers containing petroleum, as that can trap the heat in the skin, and also avoid benzocaine and/ or lidocaine products as these products can irritate the skin. If the sunburn is very irritated and/or itchy, a small amount of hydrocortisone cream can be used to help soothe the skin, which can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. Take ibuprophen if your burn is very painful and contact your doctor if the pain persists. Drink extra water and leave any blisters alone. If you feel dizzy, weak, sick to your stomach, cold, or just not yourself, make sure to go see your doctor and get checked, as these could be signs of a very serious and extreme sunburn.
I hope these important tips help protect your skin this summer and remember to pick up our Piel MD Moisturizing Antioxidant Sunscreen SPF 50 the next time you stop by our office to help you avoid sun damage as the temperatures start to warm up this season!