Sunscreen Tips for Seniors

Summer is a time where families and friends spend much of their time outdoors. While enjoying the warm summer months, it’s also important to be diligent about protecting your skin. For seniors, it’s especially important to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays, as most cases of skin cancer can be found in adults 65 years and older. Because older adults are living longer, the need for education to promote life-long skin health is more important than ever.

According to the CDC, less than half of older adults protect their skin from the sun when outside for an hour or more on a warm, sunny day. Some seniors may also take medications that have the side effect of increased sensitivity to the sun.

Here are some sunscreen safety tips to help protect aging skin from the sun:

1. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. This is the recommended SPF to use for all ages. SPF measures the level of protection that sunscreen provides against UVB rays. SPF 30 will not only protect against sunburn, but also skin cancer and skin aging.

2. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Broad-spectrum protection provides safety against both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays cause most sunburns and sun damage, which is what SPF protects against. However, UVA rays penetrate the lower levels of the skin and can cause wrinkling and age spots. This is why it’s important to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

3. Reapply. The FDA recommends reapplying sunscreen at least every two hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating. “Water-resistant” sunscreen does not equate to “water-proof”. Check the label for how long it lasts while swimming or sweating, which is most often 40 or 80 minutes.

4. Use a multitude of formulas. Sunscreen can come in a multitude of different forms, such as sticks, sprays, gels, and lotions. While research shows that no form is overwhelmingly more effective than another, it may help to use different forms that can reach areas that may be more difficult to apply. You may find that a stick is easier to apply on your face, ears, and the back of your knees while a spray or cream is best for larger areas of the body. Gels also tend to stick and last longer where we sweat, such as hairlines and scalp.

5. Check the expiration date. While many sunscreens don’t expire for two to three years, it’s important to double check the expiration date before use for sunscreen to work properly. Avoid exposing containers to heat for too long, as it may not work as well.

Our Happier at Home caregivers can make sure that your loved one is safe before an outdoor excursion by encouraging them to apply sunscreen and reapply when needed. Find a Happier at Home location near you today!