East Central Indiana
08/23/2017
 

Sun Protection

How does the sun affect the skin?

The skin's immediate or acute response to excessive sun exposure is tanning and/or sunburn. Injury caused by repeated tanning or sunburn accumulates over your lifetime, and after many years leads to premature aging of the skin. Dermatologists believe sun damage is responsible for nearly 90% of the cosmetic problems associated with aging. This includes wrinkles, leathery appearance of the skin, and irregular pigmentation or age spots. Sun damage or photo-damage may cause other changes in the skin that eventually lead to skin cancer.

What is the difference between sunblocks and sunscreens?

A sunblock is an opaque substance, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, that blocks or reflects ultraviolet rays. In contrast, a sunscreen absorbs most of the sun's rays before they can penetrate the skin, but does allow penetration of some UVB and most of the incident UVA.

Can you tan with a sunscreen?

While sunscreens available today are generally very effective, some ultraviolet rays can penetrate the sunscreen and cause you to tan. But it is important to realize that a tan means the skin has been damaged and is trying to protect itself from further injury by producing more melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural color.

What is SPF?

SPF or sun protection factor is a measure of how long you can stay in the sun without damaging your skin. We measure sun damage by a minimal erythema dose, that is, the least amount of sun exposure that causes a mild redness. SPF is calculated by dividing the minimal erythema dose with a sunscreen on the skin by the minimal erythema dose with no sunscreen. For example, if you can be exposed to sun for 75 minutes without redness with a particular sunscreen and only five minutes without it, the SPF is 15. Therefore, a lotion with SPF 15 allows you to stay in the sun 15 times longer without getting burned than if you used no sunscreen.

What SPF is recommended?

You should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. There is nothing wrong with using sunscreens with a higher SPF but most people do not need the additional protection.

Do sunscreens cause acne?

Sunscreens are available in different formulations for various skin types. If you have oily skin or are prone to acne, you should choose a sunscreen with an alcohol base. If you have dry skin, you may want to use a sunscreen containing a moisturizer. Ask us to recommend a formulation suitable for your skin.

How should sunscreens be applied?

It takes about 30 minutes for the sunscreen to bind strongly to the skin. Ideally, you should apply sunscreen about 30 to 60 minutes before going out in the sun. It is a good idea to reapply sunscreen every 60 to 90 minutes, especially when swimming, as no sunscreen is waterproof.

Should children use sunscreens?

Children may spend hours outside playing and should be protected from an early age. Because sun damage is cumulative, parents should apply sunscreen to children from the time they are first exposed to the sun. We have no reason to believe sunscreens are harmful to children.

Do sunscreens offer enough protection?

It is also wise to wear a broad-brimmed hat and protective clothing on your arms and legs. If possible, stay indoors or in shade during the middle of the day. Sun exposure is less hazardous before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. because the damaging wavelengths are much less intense.

If I use sunscreen will my body produce enough vitamin D?

While it is true that the body uses sun exposure to produce vitamin D, most people get vitamin D from their diet. It is estimated that only 5-10 minutes of exposure to the sun is enough to produce an adequate amount of vitamin D.

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