Use these methods to prevent sunburn:

  • Avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Because the sun's rays are strongest during these hours, try to schedule outdoor activities for other times of the day. Seek shade whenever possible. If you're unable to avoid being in the sun, limit the amount of time you're outdoors during these peak hours.
  • Cover up. Wear tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs, and a broad-brimmed hat, which provides more protection than does a baseball cap or golf visor. Also consider wearing clothing or outdoor gear specially designed to provide sun protection.
  • Use sunscreen frequently and liberally. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater. The American Academy of Dermatology currently recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or perspiring. Even the best sunscreen might be less effective than the SPF number on the bottle would lead you to believe if it isn't applied thoroughly or thickly enough, or if it's perspired away or washed off while swimming. Use it even on cloudy or hazy days. UV rays can penetrate cloud cover.
  • Wear sunglasses when outdoors. Look for a manufacturer's label that says the sunglasses block 99 or 100 percent of all UV light. To be even more effective, choose sunglasses that fit close to your face or have wraparound frames that block sunlight from all angles.

Some people try getting a "base" tan to prevent sunburn. The idea is that a few sessions of indoor tanning will protect them from burning in the sun. There's no scientific proof that this is true. A base tan is no substitute for sound sun protection. Plus, the risks of long-term tanning outweigh the unproven benefits of a base tan.

Apr. 14, 2011