Your Concierge Physician’s Summer Newsletter Part 2 – Sunscreens

July 6, 2014


Long days and hot weather encourage us to enjoy being outside during the summer. A little knowledge and simple precautions can keep you healthy and safe while you were swimming at the beach, sharing a picnic, biking or reading a good book by the pool. Everyone knows the importance of covering up when out in the sun. Skin cancer is more common now. According to the Mayo Clinic, the incidence of melanoma has increased eightfold since 1970 for women under 40 and 24 fold for women 40 to 60 years old. There are over 3.5 million basal cell and squamous cell cancers in the US annually. UVA and UVB light damage the skin causing wrinkles, sunspots, pigmentation, sagging and damage that may result in cancers. Long sleeve shirts, long pants, hats, sunglasses and umbrellas keep out direct sun. Tightly woven fabrics are more protective than looser weaves. Hold the clothing up to the sun. If you can see light passing through it the damaging the UV rays can get through also. Special sun protective clothing is available like Coolibar, Uvskinz, Solartrx, Solumbra, Athleta, Cabanalife, and Swimzip. These includes swimwear that protects even when wet. There are special detergents like Rit Sun Guard that can increase the UV protection of most clothing for about 20 washings. You can lower your risk of cancer and look younger by following these guidelines for sunscreen use: 1. Use sunscreen every day, even if the sun is not shining. Clouds block about 20% of UVA rays. People who applied SPF 15 UVA/UVB sunscreen every morning for four years and reapplied it after heavy sweating, swimming or spending more than a few hours outside hadless fine lines and wrinkles. 2. Use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. SPF stands for “sun protective factor” and refers to the theoretical amount of time you can stay in the sun without getting sunburned. SPF 15 filters out about 93% of UVB and SPF 30 filters out about 97%. SPF 50 filters out about 98%. SPF above 50 has minimal added protection. SPF applies only to UVB rays. There is no ratings for UVA rays. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide help protect from UVA. Make sure your sunscreen has UVA and UVB protection. 3. Don’t skimp. If you use too little of SPF 30 it will be like SPF 10. 4. Apply at least 15 minutes before you go into the sun. 5. Cover your face, ears and back of your neck in an even layer then work your way down your body. Don’t forget the scalp if you have thinning hair and are not wearing a hat. You can wear any type of sunscreen under makeup. Rub in the sun screen, ¬†wait 30 seconds for the sunscreen to dry and then apply your foundation. 6. Reapply every two hours or sooner if you swim or sweat. A sunscreen label must say how long your skin can be wet before you need to reapply. If the label does not specify a time make sure to reapply after sweating, swimming or getting wet. 7. Limit sun exposure during the hours of 10 AM to 2 PM.

8. Make sure to put sunscreen on before you drive. Windshields are treated to block UVA and UVB rays. The side windows of the car may not block the UVA rays. I have made numerous calls to car companies and glassmakers to try to determine which cars have the added protection and have not been able to get an answer. Unless you know that your car windows have added protection make sure you wear sunscreen. You can have a special film applied to the windows that will filter out the UVA radiation. Companies that do window tinting will apply these films for you.

It is the cumulative effect of unprotected sun exposure that causes damage to the skin. It is never too early or too late to protect yourself from sun damage. Protect yourself and have beautiful and healthy skin.

As your concierge doctor I welcome your questions, comments and suggestions. Enjoy your summer.