Some tips on preventing sunburn in extreme heat

Jul 7, 2022, 5:00 PM | Updated: Jul 21, 2022, 3:08 pm
sun burn...
With record-breaking heat comes health risks and help for the vulnerable.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is heading into triple digits with Salt Lake City forecast for 101 degrees Friday and 104 Saturday. Be Ready Utah — with the help of a skincare doctor — looks at preparing for extreme sun exposure to reduce the risk of skin damage and sunburn. 

The US Department of Health and Human Services reports:

  1. More than 1 out of every 3 Americans reports getting sunburned each year, which is a clear sign of overexposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays, a major cause of skin cancer.
  2. Every year, there are more than 63,000 new cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, resulting in nearly 9,000 deaths.
  3. Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, with 5 million people treated each year.

Mayo Clinic recommends taking these three steps:

  1. Avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The sun’s rays are strongest during these hours.
  2. Cover up. While outside, wear tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  3. Use sunscreen frequently and liberally. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.

                A. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

                B. Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. And reapply it every two hours — or more often if you’re swimming or perspiring.

How to avoid sunburn in Utah

Dr. Doug Grossman, co-leader of the Melanoma Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute and professor in the dermatology department of at the University of Utah says exposure to the sun promotes skin cancer and accelerates aging of the skin. He joins KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and guest host Taylor Morgan.

“What’s the first step for preparing for these extra sunny days? Does it get exponentially worse once we start hitting triple digits or does it just feel that way because we’re such babies?” Dave asked.

“I tell patients first of all, try to avoid the middle part of the day when the sun is strongest — and it’s even stronger here in Utah because of our higher elevations,” Grossman said.

Cover up the best you can when outside, the doctor advised, and for exposed parts of the body, apply sunscreen.

Doctor says use a mineral-based sunscreen

“What kind what SPF rating is appropriate. How many times do I need to apply that kind of daily sunscreen?” Taylor asked. 

Taylor also noted he has sunspots on his forehead and that he applies a sunscreen to his scalp every day.

The higher the SPF value, the greater the sunburn protection.

Grossman said more important than the SPF value is the active ingredients in the sunscreen product.

“I recommend mineral-based sunscreens. These are products that contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They sit on the top of the skin. They’re very stable.

“They don’t break down. Unless the skin is getting wet, you don’t need to reapply them, whereas the chemical-base products, although they’re a little bit less expensive, do break down and you have to keep reapplying them,” Grossman said.

Skip the sunscreen on your scalp and wear a hat when outside, the doctor recommended.

“What’s the best treatment” for a sunburn? Dave asked.

“There’s not a whole lot you can do. . . .  If it’s painful, you can take over the counter — something like Tylenol or Advil — and then just keep the skin moist and lubricated until it recovers. So really, the focus needs to be on preventing rather than treating the sunburn,” Grossman said.

For more information or tips, visit the Be Ready Utah website.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio.

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Some tips on preventing sunburn in extreme heat