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Summer Sun Safety month brings new warnings about sunscreen use

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EUREKA- August marks Summer Sun Safety month and doctors are stressing the importance of choosing the right sunscreen.

One common mistake that people make is having a false sense of security by assuming a sunscreen is waterproof. According to doctors, no brand is actually water “proof”. The FDA is currently working to ban products from making water proof claims on their packaging.

But whether you are going in the water or are just sitting in the sun, doctors say you should apply your sunscreen generously and often. You should also put on the sunscreen before you go out. Some products can take up to 20 minutes to begin working, enough time for you to get burned.

Also, don’t be fooled by the SPF number. Doctors say a product with an SPF of 30 will block 97 percent of harmful rays. Anything over SPF 30 does not offer significantly more protection and can be left on the shelf.

“The increased risk of melanoma is increased with sunburns. Three of them can increase your risk by 10 times; it's pretty significant,” said Anne Carlisle, dermatology nurse practitioner with Humboldt Dermatology. “We definitely are seeing a lot more melanomas now-a-days. I’ve been in the practice for 18 years and it used to be we'd see maybe 2 or 3 a year, I’m seeing that many easily in a month.”

Carlisle says to protect yourself from a severe burn and melanoma you should look for broad-spectrum sunscreens. Those products will typically have zinc oxide or titanium dioxide listed on their label. Also, you should throw out old sunscreens. Over time those products lose their efficiency. And as always, she says to cover up when going out into the sun.