June 10, 2014 6:45 pm
Updated: November 25, 2014 12:36 pm

Five sunscreen tips to avoid getting sunburned this summer


TORONTO – With temperatures starting to rise across the GTA more people are spending time outside, with more time spent in the sun.

Avoiding a painful burn isn’t the only benefit from sunscreen, it can also help prevent skin cancer.

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“UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds causes about 90% of melanoma cases, so it’s one of the few cancers that’s almost entirely preventable,” said Dr. Samir Gupta. “Yet two national studies over the past two decades show Canadians are spending more time in the sun without adequate protection.”

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Health Specialist Dr. Samir Gupta says there are some tips people should be aware of when applying sunscreen to avoid getting stung by the sun.

Among some of the tips Dr. Gupta says it’s important to get sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30, and to make sure it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

Here are five tips when putting on sunscreen this summer:

5) Attitude adjustment

When it comes to spending time in the sun people often put themselves at risk by spending too much time in the sun.

“People think that by putting on sunscreen, they’re completely immune to the effects of the sun,” said Dr. Samir Gupta. “The problem is that because sunscreen is often used incorrectly, they may paradoxically increase their risk because they stay out in the sun longer.”

READ MORE: FDA requires warning labels, safety measures for indoor tanning

4) Make sure you get both UVA and UVB protection

“Most of the focus is on UVB radiation, which causes sun burns, but UVA also increases the risk of melanoma,” said Dr. Gupta.

3) Get SPF 30

When looking at the sunscreen’s SPF or sun protection factor, Dr. Gupta says to stick with sunscreen with a SPF 30.

“The SPF scale is not linear, but logarithmic,” said Dr. Gupta. “The difference between SPF 50 and SPF 30 is absorption of 98% of radiation instead of 97%.”

“In many countries, labelling above SPF 50 is banned, because it doesn’t mean much,” said Dr. Gupta.

READ MORE: Canadian skin cancer rates not a cancer success story

2) Apply enough

Don’t skimp out when applying sunscreen, as it could lead to burns in areas that are missed.

“To achieve the full SPF value, you need 2 mg/cm2 of sunscreen – which for the average-sized adult is about the amount required to fill a 1 ounce (30 ml) shot glass,” said Dr. Gupta

1) Re-apply

You’ve probably heard this since you first stepped outside as a child. Apply, and then re-apply, especially if you’re in the water or going for a run.

“Re-application at least every two hours is necessary,” said Dr. Gupta. “Especially if you are swimming or sweating, and even if you are using water-resistant sunscreen, look at the label to see how long the sunscreen lasts in the water.”


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