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“People think we don’t have much sun,” she said. They’re wrong. And sunscreen should be used year-round, she said, and even on cloudy days. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com

How to select a sunscreen

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features Duluth, 55802
Duluth Minnesota 424 W. First St. 55802

When summer breaks out in the Upper Midwest, it’s as if sugar water has been spread onto the sidewalk and we, the ants, come marching out.

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But there is something not so unique to our weather: the power of the sun. Using sunscreen, even here, is a must.

The option is skin cancer, said Marne Guthrie, an aesthetic laser technician at Duluth’s Skin Renewal Clinic, part of Essentia Health.

“People think we don’t have much sun,” she said. They’re wrong.

And sunscreen should be used year-round, she said, and even on cloudy days.

Guidelines suggested by Guthrie are the same as those offered by dermatology associations and the government group that regulates sunscreen makers — the Food and Drug Administration.

-- The “sun protection factor” on your bottle of sunscreen should be 30 or higher.

-- The sunscreen bottle should have the words “broad spectrum” on it, meaning it protects from the two most damaging ultraviolet sun rays — UVA and UVB.

-- There is no proof that higher SPFs are more protective, but Guthrie says they do need to be reapplied like any other lotion, every two hours. If in the water, it needs to be reapplied even more often. No sunscreen is water-resistant.

-- Don’t forget ears, lips and feet when applying, Guthrie said.

-- The general amount to be applied should be about a shot glass full. It should be on the skin for 15 minutes before venturing out.

-- Children are especially vulnerable, and a doctor should be consulted before applying sunscreen to babies younger than 6 months old. Use common sense — shade, wide-brimmed hats, real sunglasses — for yourself and children.

-- Reduce your time in the sun, trying to avoid exposure from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the sun is at full strength.

Guthrie said there is a strategy for checking your skin for signs of cancer, which is on the rise. Take note of any new moles or growths. Check any existing growths that begin to grow or change. Lesions that change, itch, bleed, or don’t heal could be a sign of cancer. Early detection is key, since it can lead to easy treatments.

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