We have had months of crazy weather. There has been day after day of rain and cold followed by more rain. So it isn’t surprising that with a few straight days of warm weather and plenty of sunshine that thoughts turn to outdoor activities. Most people who spend time outdoors reach for the protection of sunscreen. And, this kicks off the great debate about whether sunscreen actually helps us or hurts us.
Every year when the weather looks like the sunshine might be here to stay, the public is inundated with reports about sunscreen. Some of the reports state that the chemicals in sunscreen are dangerous and that people who utilize sunscreen are deceived into believing that it prevents skin cancer. Other reports, including one from the American Academy of Dermatology, declare those statements are false. Who are we, the consumer, suppose to believe? I believe in facts. So here are the facts about sunscreen.
The fact is that dermatologists agree that sunscreen does protect the skin. You can purchase sunscreen to protect your skin from various types of damage. It is important to pay attention to the labeling on the sunscreen you use. Products that block UVA rays are pretty good at protecting your skin from tanning, wrinkles, and some skin cancers. Products that block UVB rays protect your skin from sunburn and skin cancer. Most sunscreens on the market are called “wide” or “broad” spectrum and will protect you from both UVB and UVA rays.
The fact is that existing skin disorders such as eczema may be exacerbated by certain chemicals in sunscreen. However, this is true of many products you purchase. Again, it is essential to read the product label before choosing a sunscreen.
The fact that the vitamin A compound found in some sunscreens may actually increase the risk of skin cancer is considered implausible by many due to the fact that it is used in the treatment of some cancers. Additionally, studies which suggest this possibility have only been performed on mice which are more susceptible to cancer in the first place.
The fact is that you play a crucial role in how successful your sunscreen is at protecting your skin from the sun. Simply follow some common sense rules when you are out in the sun.
Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out into the sun
Choose a sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher
Don’t be skimpy, lather your body by applying liberally as instructed
Reapply sunscreen frequently, especially after swimming or perspiring
Wear a hat to protect your head, sunglasses to protect your eyes, and a long sleeve shirt
Head for the shade, if possible. However, don’t forget that sun reflects off sand, snow, and water.
Don’t forget to use sunscreen on cloudy days
Every year, like millions of others, I purchase sunscreen in bulk quantities knowing that I am protecting my family’s skin from sun damage. Now that you have the facts, you too can choose a sunscreen with confidence.