Sun safety tips for summer fun

Summer time is the time for lots of fun in the sun.

But that fun comes with its own set of health risks.

Since many of you probably will be out in the sun this holiday weekend, KHQA's Rajah Maples checked in with an area dermatologist for some tips on how to protect your skin from both a health aspect and cosmetic aspect.

Dr. Jamie McGinnes with Riverside Dermatology said, "Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers including melanoma. More than 1 million new skin cancers will be diagnosed this year in the U.S."

We all know that the sun can cause skin cancer and that we're supposed to use sunscreen when we're out in the sun. SPF stands for skin protection factor, and those factors vary between as little as two or as high as 100. But what do all those SPF numbers mean exactly?

"They look at the amount of time it takes for a sunburn to occur on suncreen protected skin to the amount it takes for a sunburn to occur on unprotected skin," Dr. McGinnes said, "So for example, if a person normally burns after 10 minutes in the sun, uses an SPF of 2, it would take them 20 minutes to burn in the sun. If that same person uses an SPF of 15, it would take them 150 minutes."

Dr. McGinnes recommends you use what's called a "broad-spectrum," water-resistant sunscreen that has an SPF of 15 or higher. But keep in mind no sunscreen blocks the sun's rays 100 percent.

"Even though you're using an SPF of 30, you're only blocking 97 percent of UVB," he said. "An SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays, so just because you're wearing sunscreen//it doesn't mean you should stay out in the sun longer."

Skin cancer isn't the only thing you should be concerned about. Dr. McGinnes says premature aging is strongly related to sun exposure, especially over the course of several years. That means a few minutes of sun exposure over several years can lead to age spots, sun spots, wrinkles, a leathering look of the skin or the appearance of small blood vessels.

Dr. McGinnes said, "The sun, what it does is damages the collagen as well as the elastin in the skin, and that's what leads to the changes."

As for the strength of the sun's rays, they're strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Dr. McGinnes says a good rule of thumb is -- if your shadow is shorter than you, find shade.

Dr. Jamie McGinnes also recommends applying sunscreen 30 minutes before heading out into the sun.

Apply it every 2 hours or more if you've been sweating or in the water.

You can find much more information and tips from the American Academy of Dermatology at