Here Comes the Sun (And the Block)

Plenty of people worship the sun's rays and there's no better place to do that than the beach.  

"I come to the beach a lot,” said MiMi Cardwell of Hartford, at Hammonasset State Park recently.

"I love hanging out in the sand and I love the sun.  It feels so good," said Tessla Donovan of Enfield.

 But there's no question: The sun is dangerous.

"I'm concerned about getting wrinkles and sun damage," said Meghen Power of Enfield.

She has good reason to be concerned says UConn Health Center Dermatologist, Dr. Jane Grant-Kels.

"We do know, unequivocally, the sunlight is carcinogenic.  It causes skin cancer and it promotes skin cancer.  Both," said Dr. Grant-Kels.

Grant-Kels advises her patients to cover up with sun protective clothing, which is made of tightly woven fabrics.

"I tell my patients, if you hold up the article of clothing to the light and a lot of light comes through that's how much light's hitting your skin,” she said.  "If you see me at the beach, I'm completely covered."

However, if you insist on baring all, at least cover up your skin with the right lotion.

Look for a product that has an SPF of at least 15 and protects against both UVA and UVB rays.  It’s also important to apply the lotion before you go outside.

"Before we even leave the house I try to make sure everyone has a layer on before," says Portland mother of two, Beth Connelly.

The doctor says lotion should be applied 20 minutes before you leave.   Then reapply when you get to the beach to make sure you're completely covered.

Another key part of the equation is how much lotion you rub on.

"It would not be unusual for somebody to use a complete tube of sunscreen during a day at the beach.  And I think people don't realize that," said Dr. Grant-Kels.   “Those people who keep a tube of sunscreen for the entire summer, they're not using it correctly.”

You should use an ounce or shot glass full for every application and reapply every two hours.

If you have little ones, sunscreens and blocks should be avoided until they're six months to a year old. 

Finally, if you're using last season's sunscreen make sure it's still good.

"If you use a sunscreen that's expired, it won’t work.  It's not going to hurt you.  It just won’t work as well.  The other thing is people leave sunscreens in their boat or in their car where it is really hot and that can cause denaturalization and breakdown of the product,” said Dr. Grant-Kels.

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