By William Butler
It’s summer and so that means more time to spend outdoors. So far, our weather has been pretty fair with sunny days mixed with rainy evenings leading to moderate temperatures. But nothing can ruin a semester of fun like sunburns and skin cancer. Thankfully, modern science has done quite a bit to prevent both of these things. Sunscreens are products that protect against ultraviolet radiation. This radiation comes into two forms, UVA and UVB. UVA creates lasting skin damage, and aging. UVB are shorter waves and cause sunburns and skin damage. Both lead to skin cancer and both come from the sun.
When shopping for sunscreen, you may notice that there are several different variations. The sunscreen itself comes in several forms, typically a spray, stick, or lotion. There is no real difference between either form and so most doctors recommend that you use whatever works best for you. They also recommend that it is applied at least 15 minutes before going outside. Another difference among sunscreens is their SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, rating.
This measurement is a way to determine the strength of the sunscreen against UV rays. On average, it takes about 20 minutes for there to be visible damage to your skin. The SPF is a factor that can be multiplied by this base number to extend your ability to be protected by the sun. For example, if you use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 (perhaps the most common sunscreen,) you will be protected for about 5 hours. Other things to look for include products that include Helipolex and meroxyl because they give better protection to both UVA and UVB radiation.
It should also be noted that hats and protective clothing are even more effective than sunscreen. Together, sunscreen and protective clothing should be more than enough to make sure that your summer is relaxing and fun.
William Butler is a psychology and pre-medical student at the University of Central Florida. He is also pursuing a minor in music. He performs in the Arts in Medicine (AIM) organization from the UCF College of Medicine where he plays contrabass. He has been studying and performing music for seven years and can play piano, bass, and guitar. He also holds a weekly article with the Health and Medicine section of the East Orlando Post.