It’s June - the weather forecast is sunny and hot. That also means it’s time to avoid too much direct sunlight. We’ve all heard it thousands of times – sunscreen protects us from skin damage, signs of aging, and skin cancer.
The best news is that sunscreens are great at protection and feeling good on our skin. We thought you might like some additional information on sunscreens, how they work, do they prevent the absorption of Vitamin D, and the newest addition – spray-on. We tapped our friends at Lifescience for the most recent information. Here’s what they had to say:
How does sunscreen work?
Sunscreens can be made of two types of ingredients: inorganic particles, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, or organic components, such as herbal extracts or compounds like oxybenzone.
The particles in sunscreens provide physical protection against UV rays by blocking or reflecting sunlight. Organic components absorb UV rays and release their energy as heat, providing chemical protection.
Dr. Shannon Trotter, professor of dermatology at the Ohio State University, says it is optimal to use a combination of both types of sunscreen, those providing chemical protection and those offering physical defenses. You can tell which is which by looking at the labeling required by the FDA. Most sunscreens today have both types of ingredients.
The concept of sun protection factor (SPF) was introduced in the 1960s. SPF indicates how long a sunscreen protects the skin. Physicians recommend SPF 15 and SPF 30. Higher SPFs may not actually provide longer hours of protection, especially because the cream is usually washed off or absorbed after two hours.
Does sunscreen prevent people from getting vitamin D?
The body needs sunlight to produce vitamin D. So, should we worry that wearing sunscreen may lead to vitamin D deficiency?
Studies have yielded mixed results, but large trials have shown that although sunscreen does lower the amount of vitamin D produced by the skin, these effects are not significant.
The American Academy of Dermatology does not recommend getting vitamin D from sun exposure; instead, the academy recommends getting this nutrient from the diet, by eating foods naturally rich in vitamin D and from vitamin supplements. Foods that have high levels of vitamin D include fish oil, salmon and sardines, soy milk, eggs, fortified dairy products and mushrooms.
The most recent sunscreens: spray-ons
The innovation of spray-on sunscreen brought ease of application to a whole new level. But are these products effective and safe?
Recently, the FDA warned against wearing spray-on sunscreen near open flames. In five incidents, people wearing the spray-on protection near sources of flame suffered significant burns. Although the specific products linked with these cases were recalled and are no longer on the shelf, many other spray-on sunscreen products may contain flammable ingredients, such as alcohol, and could catch on fire if they are too close to flames.
Trotter said spray-on sunscreen is effective if applied properly. "Some people spray it from too far away and only get a mist," she said, "The biggest challenge is to know how you actually use enough to cover all the areas of the body."
Another concern with sprays is toxicity. The FDA is investigating the health risks of accidentally inhaling spray-on sunscreen. Trotter recommended using a lotion for areas near the mouth and using spray for hair-bearing areas where it's difficult to apply a cream.
Little bites to remember
You need a volume of one shot-glass–worth of sunscreen to cover the body, and you should apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outdoors. Don't forget the lips, Trotter said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UV-A and UV-B rays, and has an SPF of at least 15. People should check the expiration date, because some sunscreen ingredients might degrade over time or develop bacterial growth.
It's also recommended that people with oily skin or those who are prone to acne use a water-based sunscreen. And people sensitive to para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) should buy brands that do not contain the compound.
The FDA recommends not applying sunscreen on babies younger than 6 months old. Instead, babies should be placed in shady areas or covered with clothing.
Dean and Draper
We hope your summer is filled with safe fun in the sun. When you have questions about your insurance, we invite you to contact us. We welcome the opportunity to talk with you and promise accurate and informative answers to your questions.
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