What is a proper SPF for an area like Texas that gets a lot of sunlight in the summer?
Loris Rayner MD
pediatrician AMG Chicago
The FDA will soon be changing the labeling requirements on sunscreens to simplify labeling in order to help consumers choose sun screen products and avoid misleading claims of manufacturers regarding sun protective factors. The new guidelines will require labeling that states that the SPF greater or not and if the product provides UVA and UVB protection. These changes will be implemented in the near future.
In general SPF 50 or greater with both UVA and UVB coverage is recommended for direct sunlight exposure. Sunscreen needs to be applied adequately to provide protection and reapplied every 2 hours or sooner if swimming, exercising, etc to maintain protection. Avoiding extensive exposure during the peak hours of sun between 10am and 2pm and wearing sun protective clothing that includes long sleeves, wide brim hates when possible, and sunglasses is also helpful to avoid excessive sun exposure. Many dermatologists recommend at least SPF 30 for indirect sun exposure on a daily basis, however, this may be inadequate for certain individuals with fair skin or those with an increased risk of skin cancer, or in climates where the sun exposure is very intense. Sun protection is very important for children, including sun protective clothing and bathing suits, avoiding over exposure, and the use of child safe sunscreens.
The American Academy of Dermatology and the Skin Cancer Foundation websites are an excellent resource for patients that you may find helpful:
Thank you for your inquiry.
Andrea Willey, MD
Nancy Sheehan, MD, MPH, FACPM