Sunscreen (On the skin)
May help protect your skin from sunburn, skin cancer, and other skin damages caused by the sun.
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When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
How to Use This Medicine
Cream, Gel/Jelly, Liquid, Ointment, Spray, Stick
- Most sunscreens are applied about 15 to 30 minutes before you go out into the sun. Sunscreens that contain PABA should be used about 1 to 2 hours before sun exposure. There are many different kinds of sunscreens, so instructions may change with each product. Always read and follow the instructions on the package label.
- Use the sunscreen on your skin only. Do not get it in your eyes, nose, or mouth. Do not use the spray on your face. A sunscreen stick or lip balm especially made for your face is easy to use.
- Apply a thick layer of sunscreen to all skin areas exposed to the sun. Reapply the sunscreen at least every 2 hours or more often, or after swimming, towel drying, or heavy sweating.
- If the sunscreen contains alcohol, you should not use it near a fire or if you are smoking.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine
- Store the sunscreen at room temperature away from heat and direct light. Do not freeze.
- Ask your pharmacist or doctor how to dispose of the medicine container and any leftover or expired medicine.
- Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
- Talk with your doctor before using a sunscreen on the same skin areas you are treating with other skin medicines.
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- You should not use sunscreens on children younger than 6 months of age without checking first with your child's doctor. Children younger than 6 months of age may absorb sunscreen through their skin into their bodies. It is best to keep babies younger than 6 months of age out of the sun. If this cannot be avoided, lightweight clothes and a hat may help protect a baby from the sun.
- Sunscreens work by either absorbing or reflecting the sun's ultraviolet radiation (UVR). UVR causes skin cancer, sunburns, and premature aging of the skin (wrinkles and dry, thinning skin). Clouds will filter some UVR, but not all. You will still need to use sunscreen even when it is cloudy.
- UVR can reflect off of light surfaces such as sand and snow. Wear a sunscreen when you are out in the snow to keep from getting a sunburn.
- Sunscreens are rated by SPFs (sun protection factors). Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Children older than 6 months of age should wear a sunscreen of broad spectrum and with SPF 15 or higher when outdoors. If you need more protection or have fair skin, an SPF of 20 to 30 (or higher) can be used. You can also protect your skin by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and lightweight clothes.
- To prevent skin damage, avoid being in the sun between the hours of 10 AM and 3 PM, when the sun's rays are strongest.
- Sunscreens that contain PABA may permanently stain your clothing yellow.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088
- Last reviewed on 1/27/2017
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