Sun-Safe Clothing

Last Modified: June 7, 2011

Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Is "sun-safe" clothing necessary to protect you from the sun? In other words, can one just wear clothing that protects the skin (i.e long sleeved shirts) or should one look for clothing that is made specifically to protect the skin?

Answer

Carolyn Vachani, RN, MSN, AOCN, OncoLink’s Nurse Educator, responds:

If you want your clothing to be your primary mode of protection, then yes. Studies on the sun protection offered by summer clothing found that almost half provided less than the equivalent of an SPF of 30. A typical white t-shirt has a sun protection factor around 7, and this drops to about 3 when it is wet. Darker colored clothing and those garments with tighter weave provide more protection. The more worn or stretched out a garment becomes, the less SPF it offers. All of these variables make it difficult for people to assess the protection of clothing, so a system was developed to test and certify the sun protection of fabrics. Read more about clothing with SPF.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series: Sun Safety and Skin Cancer Prevention Webchat. View the entire transcript on Sun Safety.

Blogs

How to Find the Cancer Resources You Need - Brown Bag Web Chat
by OncoLink Editorial Team
June 15, 2011

Don't Assume You Understand
by Bob Riter
July 29, 2015

Related News

Social Norms Influence Lifeguards' Safe Sun Habits

Aug 3, 2015

Workplace policies and participation in sun protection programs also play a role


Minority patients more willing than whites to expend their financial resources to prolong life

Apr 27, 2011

Minority patients more willing than whites to expend their financial resources to prolong life


Magnetic resonance imaging not considered a good use of resources in study group of patients

Feb 15, 2010

Magnetic resonance imaging not considered a good use of resources in study group of patients


From the National Cancer Institute