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More than skin deep: UPF clothing

MSTD: UPF Clothing

You can protect yourself from the sun with special clothing -- and even laundry detergent.

Within the last 10 years or so, a number of companies have been specializing in sun protective clothing, said Dr. Anthony Gust, dermatologist.

It's often labeled UPF clothing on store racks.

UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. The UPF number usually ranges from 15  to 50-plus. UPFs are not regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

UPF clothing has tighter weaves or are treated to ensure less sun gets through the fabric to burn skin

While clothes in general protect you from the sun, Dr. Gust said there is an additional to UPF-rated apparel.
"The nice thing about the clothing with a UPF rating is it sort of takes the guesswork out of it, so you don't have to try to decide on your own if this is the right color or right kind of weave to give you good sun protection," he explained.

If you don't want to buy  UPF clothes, which tend to cost more the doctor recommends choosing darker colored, heavier weight or tighter woven fabrics.

Another option is a special laundry detergent, such as SunGuard.

"What it's basically supposed to do is plug the holes in the fabric," said Dr. Gust. "It's supposed to last up to 20 washes and it's supposed to make the clothing more sun protective."

The makers claimSunGuard  puts a UPF of 30 in all clothes washed with it.

 "We don't know what happens when you use them frequently, wash them repeatedly," said Dr. Sanjiv  Agarwala, chief of hematology/oncology at St. Luke's Cancer Center."Let's put it this way, if you want to do that in addition to the sunscreen, great. Don't do that instead of the sunscreen."

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