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Get the most from your sunscreen this race day weekend

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As summer starts to heat up, so can your skin. 

Indiana saw more than 2,000 new cases of melanoma in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society

Applying sunscreen properly can help prevent certain skin cancers. 

Kick off race day weekend by tossing expired sunscreen. 

Dr. Becky Dixon, a pediatrician at IU Health, says expired sunscreen loses effectiveness over time. 

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Keep in mind sun damage can happen even when it’s cloudy so head to the track with a new bottle and don’t bother spending extra money on high SPF.

According to Dr. Dixon, there is no real evidence SPF 50 and above work better. She suggests sticking with an SPF of between 15 and 30. 

Dr. Dixon also recommends wearing long sleeve shirts and hats with at least a 3-inch brim for increased sun protection. 

A report published this week in the medical journal JAMA said chemicals from sunscreen can enter a person’s bloodstream after just one day of use. 

The report can lead to safety concerns when trying to protect your family from the sun. 

Authors of the study admit there are limitations in the research. For example, the study was conducted inside. Actual sun absorption could differ. 

Dr. Dixon says certain chemicals like zinc oxide found in sunscreen actually help keep sun rays out. 

“The absorption is actually not as dangerous as the sun damage itself. And so making sure that you’re covering for a broad spectrum. Making sure you apply it correctly, which would be 15-30 minutes before you go out into the sun and then every two hours and after swimming,” said Dr. Dixon. 

Broad Spectrum sunscreen protects from UVA and UVB rays. Both of which can lead to skin cancer. 

For infants less than 6-months-old, Dr. Dixon says to not apply sunscreen from head-to-toe. Rather only to parts of the body that are directly in the sun. It’s best to have an infant in long sleeve shirts, pants and hats. 

If someone in your family does get a sunburn, manage pain by staying hydrated. Dr. Dixon says pain medication like Motrin is also acceptable for children and infants 6-months-old and up. 

Those with sunburn should avoid medicated topical creams. Aloe isn’t medicated and may help relieve pain. 

While sunscreen is important, visiting the dermatologist once a year is a good idea. 

Dr. Dixon also advises keeping an eye on highly pigmented or dark spots on the skin. And when in doubt, visit your doctor. 

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