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why upf clothing why sun protective clothing

Sun protective clothing is extremely important.  Even on a cloudy day in the fall or winter 80% of ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun penetrates through. This UV radiation is linked to skin cancer and premature aging.  Skin cancer prevention starts in early childhood. Sun damage is cumulative over your lifetime. 

Primary prevention of skin cancer means being smart about sun exposure.

  • Wear sun protective clothing including a long-sleeved shirt, long-pants and a broad-rimmed hat.  Clothing's Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) indicates the fabric’s effectiveness at blocking ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB) that causes sun burns, skin damage and skin cancer.  A rating of 50 means that over 98% of ultraviolet radiation is blocked. Most traditional  clothing has a UPF of less than 30.

  • Avoid peak sunlight exposure between 10 am and 3 pm. 

  • Wear sunscreen to protect areas of skin that are still exposed.  Sun protection factor (SPF) of sunscreen is used to measure the amount of ultraviolet radiation that is blocked.  Dr. Gomez-Meade recommends using a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to sun exposed skin (children less than 6 months of age should avoid direct sun exposure).  

  • Sunscreen should be applied at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplied every 2 hours. It is very important to apply a sufficient layer since applying a thin layer substantially reduces the effectiveness.  

  • There are two types of sunscreens, physical and chemical blockers. Physical sunscreens contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to protect against UVA and UVB.  Chemical sunscreens include ingredients such as octocrylene or benzophenones which also blocks UVA and UVB. However, Dr. Gomez-Meade recommends physical sunscreens for children, especially those with sensitive skin or eczema. 

  • Remember, sun protection is also important during the winter months!

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