Hi, Dr. Frye here and this month I wanted to give the newsletter reins over to our medical aesthetician Jean to talk about our special summer edition of the Full Circle Health Newsletter.
This month we will focus on one of our skin’s worst enemies: UV Radiation. It’s a topic we just have to talk about since Arizona has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the nation and many are confused about all the various forms of protection out there in the marketplace and how to use them. So…..
Why Should I Wear Sunscreen Daily?
While the sun provides important Vitamin D, too much sun exposure can lead to skin cancers. Even early civilizations used a variety of plant products to protect the skin from sun damage.
Sunscreen first came to the commercial market in 1936 and has experienced many changes over the years. The first effective sunscreen was introduced in 1946 and it is estimated that it had an SPF of 2.
We’ve come a long way since then and because Arizona is home to three of the U.S.’s sunniest cities; Yuma, Phoenix and Tucson, it’s important to know what kind of sunscreen works the best.
Types of Ultraviolet Radiation
Sunscreens are developed to prevent the transfer of energy from solar rays to the skin. The results of solar energy over time are, of course, sunburn but exposure can also lead to premature ageing, skin discolorations and an increased risk of skin cancer.
Just one severe sunburn in a person’s lifetime will increase skin cancer risk. Studies show that 90% of non-Melanoma skin cancer, 65% of Melanoma skin cancer and 90% of premature ageing is related to UV exposure.
There are two types of UV radiation that we need to be concerned about, UVA and UVB. UVA rays carry more energy and penetrate deeper into the skin causing premature ageing and skin cancers. UVA rays also go through glass and can be present in fluorescent lighting.
UVB rays have a shorter wavelength and primarily cause damage on the skin’s surface such as in a sunburn, but can also be responsible for causing skin cancers. UVB rays are strongest between the hours of 10-4, April through October. Unlike UVB rays, UVA rays are prevalent year round.
Types of UV Protection
There are two types of sunscreen available these days, classified as chemical or physical. All sunscreen is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Both decrease solar damage by either blocking or absorbing UV radiation.
Sunscreens that filter both UVA and UVB rays are referred to as “broad spectrum”. The SPF number on the label lets you know how long you can stay in the sun before starting to burn and how well the product filters the sun’s rays.
The first step in choosing which SPF rating that’s best for you is to consider how long you can stay in the sun before burning and then multiply that by the SPF number.
For example: if you can stay in the sun 10 minutes before burning and you choose an SPF of 20, you will be able to stay in the sun for 200 minutes before burning.
Does a product with an SPF rating of 30 mean that you get double the protection that you would from one with a rating of 15? No. The following chart shows how well a formula will filter the sun’s rays.
SPF 2 filtersAbout 50% of UVB raysSPF 10 filtersAbout 85% of UVB raysSPF 15 filtersAbout 95% of UVB raysSPF 30 filtersAbout 97% of UVB rays
Above an SPF of 30 the increase in protection is minimal. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for application as the protection factor will reduce if not enough product is applied. It is also important to reapply your sunscreen at least every two hours.
Chemical sunscreens are most commonly sold over-the-counter at your local drug or department store. These work by absorbing UV radiation and transforming it into a chemical reaction, preventing the transfer of solar energy into the skin.
Drawbacks of Chemical Sunscreen