Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

July 14, 2015
Contact: Scott Salotto (845) 638-5645
               Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, DO, FAAFP (845) 364-2512


NEW CITY, NY - - Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert advise residents to use sunscreen and take other steps to protect your skin during the long, hot days of summer. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun (and other sources like tanning beds) are the main cause of skin cancer, and can also cause skin and eye damage.

"Sunscreen is the main tool in the sun protection toolbox. Choose a sunscreen that has an SPF (Sun Protective Factor) of 30 or higher, is water resistant, and provides broad-spectrum coverage, which means it protects you from UVA and UVB rays," said Dr. Ruppert.

The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn. With SPF 30 sunscreen, you get about one minute of UVB rays for each 30 minutes you spend in the sun. Sunscreens labeled with SPFs as high as 100+ are available. A higher SPF number means more UVB protection, however the higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes. For example, SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%.

No sunscreen protects you completely, though to get the most out of your sunscreen, follow these tips:

  • Apply sunscreen generously before going outdoors (even on cloudy or cool days). It takes about 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. If you wait until you are in the sun to apply sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn. If you're going to wear insect repellent or makeup, put the sunscreen on first.
  • Use enough sunscreen. Most adults need at least one ounce of sunscreen, about the amount you can hold in your palm, to fully cover all exposed areas of your body. Rub the sunscreen thoroughly into your skin.
  • Apply sunscreen to all bare skin. Remember your neck, face, ears, back and tops of your feet and legs. If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a wide-brimmed hat. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15. Always follow the label directions.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours to remain protected, or immediately after swimming or excessively sweating.
  • Check the expiration date on the sunscreen to be sure it's still effective. Most sunscreen products are good for at least two to three years, but you may need to shake the bottle to remix the sunscreen ingredients. Sunscreens that have been exposed to heat for long periods, such as if they were kept in a glove box or car trunk through the summer, may be less effective.

Sunscreen does not block all UV rays, so it's important to also use other forms of sun protection: cover up when you are out in the sun (wear clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect as much skin as possible); protect your eyes with sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV light; limit your direct exposure to the sun (especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest); and avoid tanning beds and sunlamps, as both can cause serious long-term skin damage and contribute to skin cancer.

Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight and protected from the sun using hats and protective clothing. Sunscreen may be used on small areas of exposed skin only if adequate clothing and shade are not available. Check with your children's doctor about how to best protect them from the sun.

For more information visit American Cancer Society's website at and click on Stay Healthy.