Public Health
Sunscreen

Overview:

  • A sunscreen is necessary not only for protection against sunburns, but also against early skin-aging and skin cancer.
  • The more the sunscreen applied, the greater the protection.
  • Sunscreens provide extra skin protection, but should not be taken to be a substitute of clothes or shade.
  • Babies under six months of age should be kept away from the direct sunshine.
  • Sunscreens that have been exposed to heat for a long time may become less effective.

Introduction:  
The incidence of skin cancer has risen dramatically worldwide over the past years. Accordingly, the production and use of sunscreens has increased, for protection against the sunlight, especially the ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunscreens are available as creams, lotions, gels or sprays. Unprotected exposure to the sun for a long time may result in a number of health problems affecting the eyes and the immune system, as well as the skin, including rash, etc. 

Ultraviolet rays: 
The sunlight that reaches us is made up of two types of harmful rays:
  • long-wave ultraviolet A (UVA):
 It causes skin-aging (photoaging); since it affects the elastin in the skin, leading to wrinkles (photoaging) and skin-coloring. This type of rays can penetrate the window glass, as well as penetrating deep into the dermis.
  • Short-wave ultraviolet B (UVB): 
This type of rays develops superficial sunburns. It causes the skin to become darker, or develops sunburns.
UV rays of both types damage the skin, and may lead to skin cancer. So far as can be ascertained today, no UV rays are safe.

People at high risk: 
  • Athletes;
  • Children;
  • People in highland and hot areas;
  • Outdoor workers, who usually work under the sun. 

Tips before using a sunscreen:
  • Choose a sunscreen the sun protection factor (SPF) of which is 30 or higher, and make sure that it is waterproof and broad-spectrum (which means that it provides protection against both types of UV). SPF is a measure of how well a sunscreen will protect skin from both types of UV. 
  • Check the expiry date of the product.
  • Avoid storing the sunscreen at hot places. 

Tips for using a sunscreen:
  • Two small spoons of the sunscreen are sufficient for the face, ear, neck and arms.
  • The sunscreen should be applied 20-30 minutes before exposure to the sun.
  • It is advisable to apply the sunscreen, when exposed to the sun for a long time, at least once every two hours.
  • The sunscreen should be re-applied on getting out of a swimming pool, after drying the body (with a towel), and after sweating.
  • Sunscreens should still be used when staying in the shade, or on cloudy days.
Sunscreens provide extra skin protection, but should not be taken to be a substitute of clothes or shade. 

Other tips for sun protection:
  • Stay in the shade.
  • Cover up: wear clothes that cover as much parts of the body as possible.
  • Put on sunglasses.
  • Use hats or umbrellas.

Tips for protecting children from the sun:
  • Keep the children protected; since their skin is more sensitive than that of adults, and the harms caused by the sun to children's skin is thought to be a trigger of skin cancer at a later stage of life.
  • Apply a sunscreen to the exposed parts of the child's body. For babies under six months of age, apply a small quantity of the sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) to limited areas of the body, such as: the face and back of the hand. Remember that sunscreens take 30 minutes to be effective.
  • Babies under six months of age should be kept away from the direct sunshine.
  • Pay closer attention to protecting your shoulders, back and neck; they are the most common areas for sunburns.
  • Cover the child’s head with a brimmed hat, so as to cover his or her face and neck.
  • Keep the eyes protected, by using sunglasses.

When to see a doctor?
  • If you experience visual problems or difficulties;
  • If a blister develops;
  • If you suffer a discharge of pus; or
  • If the pain increases when the affected area is touched.

FAQ:
  • Should sunscreens be used during summer only? 
No, sunscreens should be used every day; because the sunlight—even during winter—contains UV rays. It should be noted that sunscreens provide extra skin protection, but should not be taken to be a substitute of clothes or shade.
  • Do sunscreens cause cancer?
As of yet, there is no evidence that sunscreens lead to cancer. On the contrary, they protect the skin against the harmful radiations that increase the risk of skin cancer. 
  • Are more expensive sunscreens better?
No, the price of a sunscreen has nothing to do with its effect. All you have to check is the expiry date, and that its SFP is 30 or higher.
  • Should we avoid the sun altogether? From where, then, can we get Vitamin D?
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends getting Vitamin D through a diet rich in Vitamin D, or the foods or beverages with high intake of it, or, in cases of deficiency of such vitamin, taking Vitamin D supplements.


 
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Last Update 29 October 2019 08:46 AM
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