Most important rule to avoid getting a sunburn – Avoid sun exposure
The best way to avoid getting a sunburn is to reduce your sun exposure.
Stay out of the midday sun, which is the strongest sunlight. Find shade if you need to be outdoors. You can also calculate how much ultraviolet (UV) exposure you are getting by using the shadow rule: A shadow that is longer than you are means UV exposure is low; a shadow that is shorter than you are means the UV exposure is high.
Excessive sun exposure provides no benefit and can only result in damage like sunburn, which is an inflammatory response in your skin to UVB overexposure. However, UVB exposure is precisely what you want, in appropriate amounts, because when UVB strikes the surface of your skin, your skin converts a cholesterol derivative into vitamin D3.
Other ways to protect yourself from the sun include wearing protective clothing, such as:
- Hats with wide 4 in. (10 cm) brims that cover your neck, ears, eyes, and scalp.
- Sunglasses with UV ray protection, to prevent eye damage.
- Loose-fitting, tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs.
- Clothing made with sun protective fabric. These clothes have a special label that tells you how effective they are in protecting your skin from ultraviolet rays.
If you can’t avoid being in the sun, use a sunscreen to help protect your skin to avoid getting a sunburn while you are in the sun.
Which sunscreen should I choose?
- Depending on the mode of action, sunscreens can be classified into physical sunscreens (i.e., those that reflect the sunlight) or chemical sunscreens (i.e., those that absorb the UV light).Medical organizations such as the American Cancer Society recommend the use of sunscreen because it aids in the prevention of squamous cell carcinomas. Many sunscreens do not block UVA radiation, which does not primarily cause sunburn but can increase the rate of melanoma and photodermatitis. The use of broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreens can address this concern. Diligent use of sunscreen can also slow or temporarily prevent the development of wrinkles and sagging skin.Sunscreens are commonly rated and labeled with a sun protection factor (SPF) that measures the fraction of sunburn-producing UV rays that reach the skin. For example, “SPF 15” means that 1/15th of the burning radiation reaches the skin through the recommended thickness of sunscreen. Other rating systems indicate the degree of protection from non-burning UVA radiation.
- The best protection is achieved by dividing the SPF number in half and reapplying that many minutes after sun exposure begins. For example, if the SPF is 30, sunscreen should be reapplied once after 15 minutes of exposure. Further reapplication is only necessary after activities such as swimming, sweating, or rubbing/wiping.
For more information, see the wikipedia article on sunburn