Last week, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now allows passengers to bring full-size sunscreen bottles in carry-on bags. On Wednesday, April 7, the TSA changed its policy on carry-on sunscreen following a challenge by Brown University about only allowing a maximum 3.4-ounce (100.5ml) bottle.

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You must inform the TSA if you have sunscreen in your carry-on. Photo: Getty Images

The dermatology department of the Providence, Rhode Island Ivy League school challenged the TSA because sunscreen is used to protect a person’s body from ultraviolet radiation that is known to cause skin cancer. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) products are now listed with other medical items such as eye contact solutions, inhalers, and liquid medications on the TSA’s website.

You must inform the TSA

While full-size bottles of sunscreen will now be allowed in carry-on baggage, it is still up to you to inform the security officer checking your bag that you are carrying sunscreen, or else he or she can still confiscate it.

On the TSA’s website, it says the following about necessary medical liquid and gels:

“TSA allows larger amounts of medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols in reasonable quantities for your trip, but you must declare them to security officers at the checkpoint for inspection.” 

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

This small but important change to the TSA’s policy comes just ahead of the Skin Cancer Awareness Month of May. As warmer weather starts to appear in the northern hemisphere and people start to do more outdoor activities, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) encourages people to #PracticeSafeSun. In the United States, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer and the most preventable.

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The TSA can confiscate the sunscreen if you do not tell them you have it in your carry-on. Photo: TSA

You can lower your chance of getting skin cancer by taking the following steps:

  • Seeking shade when appropriate
  • Remembering that the sun’s rays are the strongest between 10:00 and 14:00
  • Wearing clothing that protects your skin from the sun
  • Wearing a wide-brimmed hat
  • Wearing sunglasses that have UV protection

Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher

If your skin is exposed to the sun’s rays, you can protect yourself by applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Remember to reapply the sunscreen every two hours or after swimming.

The AAD also encourages people to perform regular skin self-exams as skin cancer is highly treatable when detected early. If you notice any new spots on your skin that are different from others or have spots that itch or bleed, schedule an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist. They can then determine whether it needs to be tested or removed.

The AAD recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Photo: Pixabay

Dermatology resident physician at Brown, Julia A. Siegel, MD, and the director of Mohs micrographic and dermatologic Surgery at Brown Tiffany J. Libby spearheaded the effort to get the TSA to raise its sunscreen bottle size limit.