Protect yourself from the sunshine - WSMV Channel 4

Protect yourself from the sunshine

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Most people are looking ahead to the weekend to finally dry out and see some sunshine.  

And while there is nothing new under the sun, there is a lot of new information to consider when it comes to protecting yourself.

From new "sunscreen" pills to a wide range of SPF numbers on an array different products, protecting yourself can be confusing.

Given her Irish heritage and the fair skin that comes with it, Colleen O'Morrow has to be extra careful in the summer sun.

Nearly every time she goes out, the sunscreen goes on, though it can get tedious.

"The oil is uncomfortable on your face.  Also, if you're going to an outside event it's kind of inconvenient to have to put it on and keep checking on it," said Colleen O'Morrow.

Like many, Colleen says she'd take shortcuts if she could. But doctors worry that looking for simple solutions in sun protection might put people at risk.

For example, there are now pills on the market promising sun protection. But doctors caution that there is no scientific proof that pills alone can protect you.

"Currently the research states that we don't have that just yet.  So, we tell patients this is not a substitute for common sense for protecting yourself with sunscreen," said Dr. Shannon Trotter.

Dr. Shannon Trotter is a skin care expert at The Ohio State University's James Cancer Hospital and So love Research Institute.

"Don't fool yourself that you're getting 50 and above, that you think you can be out longer and not do that reapplication every two hours," said Dr. Trotter.

In fact, Trotter says SPF 15 blocks about 93 % of harmful sun rays and SPF blocks about 97 % so buying higher numbers doesn't mean you're getting that much more protection.  And when choosing clothing, avoid wearing whites.

"Wearing shirts or clothing that are different, darker shades such as say red or black can actually increase your sun protection.  They absorb the ultraviolet light," said Dr. Trotter.

Trotter says the key to enjoying the sun is respecting it, and not taking shortcuts that can burn you.

Studies are underway to develop pills that offer sun protection, but doctors say more research is needed. 

Antioxidants found in some medicines and supplements have shown promise, but before taking them, you should talk to your doctor because they can interact with other medications.

FDA experts say you should add non-flammable sunscreen to your grocery list the agency has received a number reports of serious burns after people applied spray sunscreen near an open flame.

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