Sunscreen works if you work it

RENO, NV (KOLO) ”Every day people should be wearing some sunscreen on their face and trailing it down on their neck as well,” says Dr. Lamerson, a dermatologist with Nevada Center for Dermatology. “A lot of damage occurs on the face and neck,” she says.

Granted, sunscreen sales most likely skyrocket in the summertime, but the sun's ultraviolet light can make it through on a cloudy day, which is why it should be part of your daily routine.

But not wearing sunscreen regularly is not the only mistake people make. How about applying sunscreen around your clothes? It’s a practice that will no doubt have you missing places on your skin.

“So you really need to apply it. You know when you are bare naked,” says Dr. Lamerson.

How about missing crucial parts of your body with the lotion or spray?

Dr. Lamerson says scalp, underarms, back of neck, ears, eyelids, toes and top and bottom of feet shouldn't be neglected.

“Surprisingly enough, I pick up a lot of melanomas on the feet and it is often concerning,” she says. “And I think people just forget about the feet and then they get burned,” says Dr. Lamerson.

Dr. Lamerson says don't forget your lips and reapply that sunscreen more often. Also use sunscreen designed for your body on your body, sunscreen designed for your face on your face.

Also check the SPF, or sun protective factor. These days it can run from 5 to 100. Dr. Lamerson says no matter what your skin type, you need to start at SPF 30 and go from there.

“If it is very expensive; sometimes people will be stingy with it,” she says. “And that is not good. And so SPF 30 and above. And something they like and like to re-apply,” she says.

Dr. Lamerson says it's surprising how many people don’t even bother with applying sunscreen at all. That’s despite the fact the benefits are well established.

“I think it is more of a benign neglect and they just don't think about it and it is a hassle,” she says. “More so than anything else. So I think people have to really keep their sunblock in a real accessible area,” she says.

You can follow that advice, but it also means using enough sunscreen, about a shot glass full for the entire body, and reapply sunscreen no less than every two hours.

If you drive frequently, don't be fooled. That won't protect your skin against sun exposure.

Dermatologists know where most skin cancers appear on the body.

“There is a big discrepancy between the right and the left. And skin cancers appear more frequently on the left side because of sun exposure and driving. Because we get a lot of exposure and we are in the car a lot,” says Dr. Lamerson.

Dr. Lamerson says wear sunscreen even if you’ll only be in the shade, and don’t wait to apply the lotion or spray until you get out in the sun

“Just like brushing your teeth, put it on in the morning, put it on any exposed areas in the morning and at least you have some sort of protection,” says Dr. Lamerson.

Finally just like milk and eggs, sunscreens do have an expiration date. If your bottle has been around for two years or more, it probably has lost its effectiveness.

Sunscreens don't show obvious signs their time has lapsed. Excessive heat or humidity can cut that time as well. Look for the expiration date on the bottle, but when in doubt, throw it out.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019