Cloud cover no substitute for sunscreen

Liberally apply sunscreen 15 minutes before exposure to sunlight as it takes awhile for the sunscreen and skin to bind. Reapply every two hours regardless the level of SPF.

Our spring has been filled with wet, cloudy, and now, hazy weather, and it might be easy to forget that the sun can still pose a risk to your skin.

But, whether you're at the park or the pool, indirect sunlight doesn't necessarily mean no sunburn.

"When there is a cloud cover, the UV rays do stay closer to the ground so you are likely to get a sunburn then, too," said Autumn Nelson, a Family Nurse Practitioner at Sanford Health.

The sun affects your skin quickly, Nelson says, so whether you're spending half an hour or five hours in the sun it warrants a layer of sunblock. She recommends a broad spectrum that will protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Sunblock with a protection of 30 SPF or higher works best.

Beyond the sun protection factor of the sunscreen, Nelson says another number to keep an eye on is the expiration date, something she says people often forget.


"It's usually a year . . . make sure that the sunscreen is up to date because it can get old and won't work as effectively," Nelson said.

As for the type, both sprays and lotions work the same, as long as you use something.

Another misconception, Nelson says, is that one application is enough.

"Make sure you read the directions," Nelson said, explaining that most last for only around 90 minutes and that sunblock should be reapplied more frequently if you are going in the water.

Staying hydrated can also be an important way to protect against sunburns, too.

If you have intense sunburns over at least 15 percent of your body or have a fever over 101 degrees, you should see a doctor.

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