Beaches, pools are back – but take precautions with sunscreen


Eagle Special

Between days at the pool and going to the beach, people enjoy nature and soak up the summer sun, which has health benefits, but the sun can be an enemy in the short and long term. .

As a result, health experts say not to forget about sunscreen.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer, according to estimates from the American Academy of Dermatology. Avoiding ultraviolet light – a risk factor for all types of skin cancer – could prevent more than 3 million cases of skin cancer each year.

However, it is not always easy to avoid these harmful rays, especially during the summer months, which is why the use of sunscreen is important. Bryan Combs, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing, and Lauren Kole, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Dermatology at UAB, share their best practices in use of sunscreen.

When choosing your sunscreen, Combs suggests looking at the sun protection factor first. The AAD recommends using an SPF of 30 or higher. No sunscreen can block 100 percent of UV rays, but SPF 30 blocks about 97 percent. It is also recommended to look for a broad spectrum sunscreen. These sunscreens help protect both from UVA rays, which cause premature aging of the skin, and UVB rays, which cause sunburn. Kole adds that UVA and UVB exposure can lead to skin cancer in the future. Since most outdoor activities involve sweating and / or getting into water, it is also helpful to look for water resistant formulas.

Then, think about what type of sunscreen is best for you. Most sunscreens come in one of four basic forms – spray, cream, gel, or stick, and each type has its own application benefits that consumers should consider.

Sprays are currently the most popular type due to the ease of application. However, people rarely apply enough, only applying about 25-50% of the recommended amount needed. Additionally, sprays are harder to control around the face making it harder to prevent inhalation or ingestion of sunscreen which can be harmful to the user.

Creams may take longer to apply, but can be applied almost anywhere on the body, including the face. People also tend to rub and apply creams a bit more than when they apply spray sunscreen.

The sticks aren’t realistic to use for the whole body, but are great for safely applying sunscreen to the facial area, including the lips. Many facial sunscreens also contain moisturizers and other anti-aging ingredients such as antioxidants.

Gels are not as common as sprays and creams, but are most effective around hairy areas. For people who don’t wear a hat or headwear, gel sunscreen is a good option to help protect the scalp. Kole adds that powdered sunscreens are also becoming more common and a great option to use on the hair.


Combs also stresses the importance of verifying that a selection of sunscreen is FDA approved. Two ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are suggested to be safe and effective for sunscreen use, while two others, aminobenzoic acid and trolamine salicylate, are not considered safe or effective for FDA sunscreen use.

In 2020, the results of FDA research on sunscreen absorption levels identified six active chemical sunscreen ingredients that were absorbed through the skin above the FDA’s threshold of concern, with some remaining in the skin. one person’s system for weeks. These ingredients are included in a list of active sunscreen ingredients on which the FDA needs more safety information before judging whether they are safe and effective. The list includes cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, padimate O, sulisobenzone, oxybenzone and avobenzone. The FDA encourages Americans to continue using sunscreen as a sun protection measure.

A quality sunscreen cannot be fully effective if it is not applied correctly. Combs suggests applying sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going out. This allows the sunscreen to be completely absorbed into the skin and form its protective barrier. The national recommendation to reapply sunscreen is every two hours; also reapply after swimming or excessive sweating. Follow the sunscreen’s directions regarding frequency of reapplication.

Areas that cannot be seen or reached are often missed places. Have someone else help you apply sunscreen to hard-to-reach areas like your upper back, or make sure these areas are covered.

Do not replace sunscreen with tanning oil or lotion. Most of these lotions will not have near the recommended SPF for maximum UV protection. Even when applied with sunscreen, some tanning oils and lotions can counteract the protective ingredients.

In addition to sunscreen, other good sun protection practices include wearing headwear, such as hats and sunglasses, and applying sunscreen very diligently when it is. exposed to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

After sun exposure, Kole suggests taking cool baths to reduce the heat, applying moisturizers, and drinking plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Hydrocortisone cream can be applied to sunburns to relieve discomfort.

Combs suggests not to use products ending in -cain, as this will not help the burn. These products only reduce the pain and will not treat the underlying skin damage, and overuse of these products can have side effects.

In case of sunburn, avoid the sun while your skin heals, and be sure to cover the sunburn every time you go out.


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