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Skin Care and Diseases

Travel to Africa

11/30/2011

Question:

Good afternoon. I am a very fair skinned female in her early 20`s. I burn very easily, ie. if it is sunny and I am driving the sun coming through the window will cause me to burn.

I am going to be spending 3 weeks in Ghana in the upcomming weeks. I will be wearing long pants and loose long sleeve shirts most of the time.

What preventitve skin care measures should I take to prevent burning? What SPF and how often should I put it on parts of my body that are covered by clothing--is it necessary? Will the spray or lotion work better?

Answer:

Long pants and loose long sleeve shirts are great but the SPF factor of clothing varies greatly. The best clothing for sun protection is densely woven dark material but that may not be practical in a very warm climate. Therefore, it is important that you wear sunscreen even on parts of the body covered by clothes. In general there is very little advantage in using SPF above a 50. However, it is important to reapply about every two hours or so especially if you are sweating a lot-regardless if the sunscreen claims to be water proof. Either spray or lotion works equally well as long as you make sure to cover all of your skin. Have a safe trip.

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Response by:

Tatiana M Oberyszyn, PhD Tatiana M Oberyszyn, PhD
Associate Professor of Pathology
Associate Professor of Molecular Virology, Immunology & Medical Genetics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University