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With summer travel on schedule for many area families, a number of health officials are warning vacationers about the dangers of too much soon.

One way to ward off some of the worst damage is with sunscreen.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that both Consumer Reports and the Environmental Working Group have published information to help people make informed choices about what types of sunscreen to purchase and use.

Boiling Springs Family Medicine physician Dr. Chad Jumper talked about sunscreen and what you should look for when buying it.

Q: How does sunscreen work?

A: “Sunscreens are topical preparations that contain filters able to reflect or absorb ultraviolet radiation.”

Q: Are there types of sunscreen that are bad for one’s health?

A: “Anything applied to the skin can potentially cause an allergic reaction. Ongoing research is looking into potentially harmful chemicals in certain sunscreens.”

Q: What is the optimal SPF of sunscreen?

A: “The optimal sun protection factor (SPF) to use is somewhere between 15 and 30, with those working or spending prolonged time in the sun encouraged to use SPF 30.”

Q: How often should sunscreen be applied?

A: “Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before exposure and reapplied every two hours. Even with water resistant or water proof labeled products, reapplication should be performed after every water exposure.”

Q: Is there a difference in effectiveness between spray sunscreen and regular sunscreen?

A: “The most important factor with spray or liquid sunscreen is to make sure enough is applied and it is spread evenly. Applying spray sunscreens in a windy environment can obviously be difficult and should be avoided if possible.”

Dr. Chad Jumper is a family practice physician at Boiling Springs Family Medicine and is board certified in family medicine. Check Boiling Springs Family Medicine on Twitter @DrChadJumper and on Facebook. This information is intended for educational purposes. Please consult your health care provider for advice about treatments that may affect your individual health.

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