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Dr. Navpreet Minhas of Butler Internal Medicine Sheds Light on Sun Screen Safety

Dr. Navpreet Minhas of Butler Internal MedicineDid you know that blistering from sun poisoning just one time during childhood can more than double a person’s chances of developing melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) later in life?

Family medicine physician Navpreet Minhas, MD, of Butler Internal Medicine, a member of the Chilton Health Network, offers some valuable tips to keep you and your family safe from the sun’s harmful rays:

What does the “broad spectrum” label on a sunscreen bottle mean?
"This label means that this particular sunscreen protects the skin from ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, both of which can cause cancer. Make sure your sunscreen carries this claim for optimal protection."                                                         

What’s the truth about the SPF numbers?
"SPF stands for 'Sun Protection Factor.' It is how much UVB radiation your skin will absorb. It’s logical to assume that a sunscreen with an SPF 30 is twice as beneficial as one with SPF 15. However, an SPF 15 product blocks about 94 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 product blocks 97 percent and an SPF 45 lotion blocks 98 percent. No sunscreens offer 100 percent UVB protection. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a minimum of SPF 30."

How much sunscreen should I use?
"Adults should apply at least an ounce of sunscreen, which is equal to the volume of a shot glass. Using a high SPF rating doesn’t mean much if you don’t apply enough."

Do I really need to wait after applying sunscreen before sun exposure?
"Yes. It takes about 15 minutes for skin to absorb sunscreen, so you should wait at least 20 minutes, just to be safe."

Should sunscreens be “waterproof” or “sweatproof?”
"Surprisingly, no. Sunscreens can no longer use these claims. Instead, use a sunscreen that reads, 'water resistant for up to 40 or 80 minutes.'"

How often should I reapply sunscreen?
"Reapply sunscreen once every two hours. Reapply it sooner if you’ve been swimming or sweating."

When does sunscreen expire?
"If there is no expiration date on the container, discard sunscreen when it is more than three years old. Bottles that have been continuously exposed to high temperatures or have obvious changes in color or consistency should be discarded sooner."

Can I get sunburn when it’s cloudy outside?
"Yes. Up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate through clouds."

How should I treat sunburn?
"Take a cool bath, gently pat yourself dry and apply a moisturizer to trap the water in your skin. Drink extra water to prevent dehydration and take an aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce swelling, redness and discomfort."

Butler Internal Medicine is located at 1395 Rt. 23, Butler, NJ. For more information, call (973) 838-0200 or visit

Chilton Hospital is a fully accredited, 260-bed, acute-care, community hospital. It is the first hospital in New Jersey to received Pathway to Excellence designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Chilton recently embarked on a $24 million modernization project, which includes the Cardiovascular Interventional Lab, The Breast Center and the Total Joint Center. It is also a four-time recipient of the HealthGrades Specialty Excellence Award in Stroke, and Five-Star Rated for Stroke Care, the highest possible, for six years in a row. In addition, Chilton is also Five-Star Rated for Joint Replacement and Total Knee Replacement for 2012. Chilton’s many services include a state-of-the-art Emergency Department, the Sleep Health Institute, the Comprehensive Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Center, the Chilton Cancer Center, the MotherBaby Center a weight loss surgery program and minimally invasive and robot-assisted surgery. The hospital is located at 97 West Parkway in Pompton Plains, NJ 07444. For more information about Chilton's facilities and services, or to find a doctor by name, specialty, or location, please visit or call 1-888-CHILTON.

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