Safely soak up the sun this summer: Sunscreen do’s and don’ts

Knowing what sunscreen works best for your skin type
Knowing what sunscreen works best for your skin type
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 6:25 AM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - As the end of May approaches, the sun is getting higher in the sky and the UV index in the Red River Valley is getting stronger. Before heading out to the pool or the lake, dermatologists want to remind everyone to lather up in sunscreen before soaking in the rays.

With pool time and sunshine comes an increased risk for sunburns and even skin cancer. Finding shade, and wearing hats, sun-protective clothing, and sunscreen can help prevent painful sunburns and skin cancer.

While sunscreen shouldn’t be your first line of defense, Dr. Rachel Ness, a dermatologist at Fargo Center for Dermatology, said brand doesn’t matter when it comes to picking out the sunscreen. She said people should instead look for a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 to 50.

Dr. Ness explained sunscreen’s effectiveness depends on application and frequency of re-applying. All SPF should be rubbed into sun-exposed skin every two hours with a thick layer. If you find yourself debating spray vs. lotion, Dr. Ness said it doesn’t matter. Any sunscreen out of the bottled and applied to the skin is a good sunscreen.

The month of May is skin cancer awareness month and with Melanoma the most common form of cancer in the U.S., Dr. Ness said she is seeing more people diagnosed with the potentially deadly disease. She advises people to check their moles and skin spots heading into the summer, and knowing what to look for is as simple as the alphabet.

  • A - Asymmetry: Are both sides of the mole equal?
  • B - Border: Does the spot have a blurred border?
  • C - Color: Are there varying colors within the mole?
  • D - Diameter: How large is the spot? Dr. Ness said melanomas are usually greater than 6 mm, or the size of a pencil eraser.
  • E - Evolution: Has the mole changed? Does it look different than others?
  • F - Family History: Do you or your family members have a history of skin cancer?

If you notice any of these on your skin, Dr. Ness said it’s best to speak with your doctor. She explained the sooner a melanoma is identified, the better.

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