Sunscreen–6 Things You Need to Know

By: Kelley Conkling, PA-C

Most people under-apply sunscreen!sunscreen

An average adult should use 1 ounce of sunscreen spread over entire body per application which equates to about a shot glass full. You must reapply frequently! Reapplication is recommended at least every 2 hours or immediately after swimming.

The best protection is avoidance of prolonged UV ray exposure.

Sun protective clothing and seeking shade in addition to regular sunscreen application will provide the best protection from over exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Try to avoid extended time spent outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are the strongest. Choose sun protective clothing with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of 30 or greater.

You are still at risk for sunburn on cloudy days.

Sunscreen should be applied daily no matter what the weather.  This is because around 40% of the sun’s UV rays reach Earth even with complete cloud cover. Many people become sunburned due to the false perception that clouds serve as adequate sunscreen.


Cream or solid stick sunscreens are preferred over spray sunscreens.

This is because much of the aerosolized spray sunscreen can end up in the air (and possibly your lungs) instead of the skin and it is difficult to determine if an adequate amount has been applied to skin. Studies are being done to determine if there is potential danger from inhaling aerosolized sunscreen during application. If you insist on using spray sunscreen, then you must rub it in well after applying to ensure that all skin is adequately covered.

Am I allergic to my sunscreen?

Although uncommon, some people may develop an allergy to an ingredient (either active or inactive) in topical sunscreen. If you experience redness, burning, or rash after using sunscreen discontinue using immediately and call your allergist for further recommendations. Patch testing may be indicated.

What sunscreen is typically the least irritating to skin?sunscreen

Allergies to physical sunscreens occur much less frequently than to chemical sunscreens. If you have sensitive skin, it is likely best to choose a sunscreen containing physical sunscreens such as titanium and zinc. These can easily be found by shopping for a “Baby” or “Children’s” sunscreen and closely reading the label for active ingredients. Here are some allergy-friendly sunscreen suggestions.


Sun and beach safety instruction, skin protection from summer sun vector infographics. Safety and protection from sun, illustration set of icon sun safety

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