Skip to Content

Protect the Skin You're In

Yellow and white flip flops, sunscreen and sunglasses in beach bag

Jun. 28 2024

by Sarah S. Cottingham, MD, Lexington Family Practice Forest Acres

Summertime in South Carolina means time in the sun. While we enjoy more time outdoors, protecting our skin is essential.
Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in people younger than 30, especially women. The incidence of melanoma in young people is likely due to not applying sunscreen and using tanning beds.

If you're going to be in the sun, sunscreen is one of the best ways to protect your skin. 

There are two main types of sunscreen: mineral-based and chemical. Mineral-based sunscreen contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and sits on the skin as a physical blocker of the sun's rays. Because it doesn't have to penetrate the skin, it works immediately. Mineral sunscreens provide broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. 

Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin and work differently. They contain organic compounds that absorb UV rays and convert them into heat that then releases from the skin. Because they absorb into the skin, they may provide more protection in the water because they do not wash off as quickly. They must be applied 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow time for skin absorption. 

Apply enough to completely coat the skin, and remember to apply to easily forgotten areas like the feet, ears, hands, and top of the head. 

Chemical sunscreens have a downside: Some can harm ocean reefs. Look for those labeled reef-safe. 

Whether you choose mineral or chemical sunscreen, it is important to reapply every two hours. If you're swimming, reapply every hour.

Apply enough to completely coat the skin, and don't forget to apply to easily forgetten areas like the feet, ears, hands and top of the head. 

head shot of Dr. Sarah Cottingham
Sarah S. Cottingham, MDLexington Family Practice Forest Acres
Load more comments
Thank you for the comment! Your comment must be approved first

Newsletter Updates

Get our email newsletter updates.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended for general understanding and education about Lexington Medical Center. Nothing on the blog should be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Blog visitors with personal health or medical questions should consult their health care provider.