The Rules of 45

With the 4th of July right around the corner, many people will be enjoying themselves outside with friends and family. It is important to remember to apply sunscreen during this time to prevent sunburns and the possibility of skin cancer in the future. An easy rule that I use to remember for when to apply sunscreen is called “The Rules of 45”. If you are outside for more than 45 minutes, apply sunscreen. If you are at the pharmacy and want the most sun protection, look for sunscreen with SPF-45 because there is not much benefit when you go beyond this. Apply sunscreen 45 minutes before sun exposure and try to avoid the peak sunlight hours, which are between 10 am and 3 pm. Living in Minnesota it is to be expected that many people will be enjoying themselves on the lakes during this time, so make sure to remember the following points in regard to reapplying sunscreen. Reapply every 4-5 hours when you are not swimming, every 45 minutes with water-resistant sunscreen and swimming, and every 90 minutes with very water-resistant sunscreen and swimming. If it is the end of the day and you find yourself fried, I would recommend using a cool bath/wet towel, Advil/Motrin (ibuprofen) as needed for pain relief, moisturizing creams to relieve some of the discomfort, drinking plenty of water, and/or Aloe for soothing and cooling (avoid products that contain alcohol as an ingredient). Have a safe and fun 4th of July everybody and remember you can prevent uncomfortable pain and help in the prevention of skin cancer.

Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs: An Interactive Approach to Self-Care 18th Edition (Chapter 38)