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Real Men Wear Gowns: Get the most from your sunscreen

"It’s a good idea to never get a sunburn," says HealthPartners dermatologist Neal Foman.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Weekend trips to the lake, bike rides along the river and backyard grilling. 

This is the time of year every Minnesotan wants to be outside, so Real Men Wear Gowns is looking at the best way to practice sun safety.

"It’s a good idea to never get a sunburn," says HealthPartners dermatologist Neal Foman.

Easier said than done. Let’s face it, sun protection is something everyone is aware of, but we may not know the best ways to protect ourselves.

"There are two kinds of ultra-violet radiation that comes from the sun," Foman said. "UVA and UVB, and a broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both."

Foman says the amount of sunscreen that fits into your palm is the amount that should be used to cover your entire body. If you use a spray, make sure to rub it in. But the most important thing is to apply before exposure.

"It will take about 15 to 30 minutes for the sunscreen to take effect, so for the first 15 to 30 minutes the sunscreen is not protecting you," he said.

And you must re-apply every two hours. If you are swimming, even more frequently. Then there’s the question of Sun Protection Factor, or SPF.

"My minimum is SPF 30," Foman said. "An SPF of number 30 should provide about 30 times more protection from the sun than if you were not wearing sunscreen at all."

Besides sunscreen, clothing with built-in ultra-violet protection, broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses are all ways to increase protection.

"It’s really important to avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible," Foman said. "Particularly, you should be in the shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its strongest."

And if you still manage to get a sunburn?

"Take lots of cold showers or soak in a cold bathtub just to kind of cool the body down," Foman said. "As soon as you come out of the shower or bath you want to apply a moisturizer all over the body."

It’s important to remember, even though a sunburn may seem minor at the time, chronic over-exposure can lead to skin cancer.