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What you must know about sunscreen you use to protect yourself and your family

If you spend any amount of time outside here in the valley, especially during the sun-scortched days of summer, you most likely understand the importance of using sunscreen. But, there could be something about the product you use, which you may not know, that could end up leaving you “overexposed”.

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CBS Local 2 “Stands for You”, so Tom Tucker reports on what you must watch out for while seeking protection from the sun’s potentially harmful rays.

Indio mom, Brooke Thompson, is certainly not alone in her response to this question. We asked if she was aware that sunscreen has an expiration date.

“No, I don’t know that sunscreen has an expiration date,” answered Thomspon.

Dermatologists say most people don’t know that, leaving themselves or their loved ones at risk of suffering a serious sunburn if they use a product that no longer works.

“My sister probably is aware of something like that. I don’t know, it’s not something I would think about,” said Thompson.

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Because sunscreen is considered an over-the-counter drug, the Food and Drug Administration requires companies print expiration dates on the product.

If a sunscreen does not have a date on it, a general rule to remember is sunscreens are designed to last for three years, according to Dr. Shari Lipner, a Dermatologist at Cornell University’s Weill Graduate School of Medicine.

Lipner says as sunscreen ages, its sun blocking ingredients degrade, or break down, leaving the product less effective.

“So its not going to give you that protection and you may burn more easily,” said Dr. Lipner.

Often, a sunscreen product is used, put away in a bathroom cabinet, and then used over the course of several seasons.

Another mistake with sunscreen, especially here in the desert, is leaving it inside a hot car for an extended period of time, which can cause the products to break down faster, leaving the lotion runny or grainy.

if you notice such a change in consistency with what you are using, you are advised to throw it away and buy a new one.

The good news for Thompson, and her two boys, while taking a dip at the Palm Desert Aquatics Center. their sunscreen is brand new, so using an expired product was not a worry.

“One of my sons sunburns like crazy, quick, so he is the one I’m more concerned with. My other son turns golden brown. so I don’t think about it as much with him,” said Thompson.

Other important considerations for the Thompsons, and anyone who “slathers up”, is the amount used, how often its applied, and, using the appropriate level SPF, or “sun protection factor”.

Its a relative measure of how long a sunscreen will protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet rays; the higher the number, the longer the protection will last.

A valley dermatologist weighed in on the topic.

“The standards that dermatologists use is that you should be applying once ounce of sunscreen to exposed areas per two hours, so that means about a shot glass to exposed areas every couple of areas,” said Dermatologist Dr. Timothy Jochen.

As a general rule, Dr. Jochen recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF 35.

More information on choosing the right sunscreen:

Choose the right sunscreen What’s the best sunscreen?

Read: Extreme Heat Warning extended in the desert Health: How to choose the safest sunscreen Special Reports: CBS Local 2 Stands for You How hot is it getting in the Coachella Valley during this extreme heat wave?

KESQ News Team


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