What kind of sunscreen should we advice our patients to get?

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11 Jul 2016 - General

New research finds that while consumers rate sunscreens that absorb well and smell nice most highly, many of these products do not adhere to American Academy of Dermatology guidelines. So how do we advice our patients on the type of sunscrren they should use? 

The following are the recommended criteria for sunscreen (by Americal Academy of Dermatology): 

  • Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays)
  • Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or higher
  • Water resistance

1. Why broad spectrum protection is needed?

UVA rays (or aging rays) can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots, and can pass through window glass. Increase exposure is associated with increase incidence of skin cancer. UVB rays (or burning rays) are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by window glass. 

2. SPF 30 or higher

SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97 percent of the sun’s rays. Higher-number SPFs block slightly more of the sun’s rays, but no sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun’s rays. Currently, there are no scientific evidence that indicates using a sunscreen with an SPF higher than 50 can protect you better than a sunscreen with an SPF of 50.

3. Water resistance is not water -proof

Water Resistant (effective for up to 40 minutes in water) or Very Water Resistant (effective for up to 80 minutes in water). This means the sunscreen provides protection while swimming or sweating up to the time listed on the label. It is recommended to reapply the sunscreen after getting out of the water or sweating. The FDA has ban labels such as waterproof/sweat-proof beacuse it's misleading. 

Looks like 2 other important point not covered here. UVA is the main cause of skin ageing. Need to get SPF 30+ with PUVA +++. 3 pluses indicate the UVA protection is as good as the UVB protenction. Very importantly, sun block can be divided into chemical sun block and physical sunblock. Physical sunblock is more reliable than chemical sunblock. Chemical sunblock may not perform as efficiently as physical block. Hence remember to look for titanium dioxide in you sun block. Sunblock frequency of a...
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