Common Sunscreen Mistakes: Are You Making Them?
Thursday, January 28th, 2021
In spite of the skin being the largest organ in the body, we tend to forget about it. We only notice it when we encounter a problem like a sunburn or rash or when we we begin to see the signs of aging. The fact that there are about 300 million skin cells, and that cellular turnover occurs approximately every 30 days does not preclude us from the consequences of sun damage. One unhealthy cell is enough to cause concern. We, therefore, talk with our patients about ways they can prevent and treat skin cancer and the effects of aging. Here, we discuss common sunscreen mistakes we hope you will avoid.
- Using sunscreen only when “in the sun.” It might seem odd to read a blog about sunscreen smack dab in the middle of winter. If this seems odd, it because most of what people believe about the sun is wrong. There are not times at which sunscreen is necessary and times it is not. Sunscreen should be worn every day, all year, rain or shine. We have been told that UVB, which is strongest in the summer, down south, and mid day, is the bad guy. It does cause sunburn, but it is UVA, which is present morning, noon, and evening, summer, winter, indoors and outdoors, even in the shade, that causes cellular injury leading to aging and skin cancer.
- Looking for SPF when buying sunscreens. Unfortunately, all SPF tells you is that you are protected from sunburn caused by UVB. It says nothing about protecting you from UVA damage. Companies cannot call themselves a sunscreen or sunblock unless they also block UVA, but they can use SPF even if they don’t.
- Not knowing how to use Sunblock. One of the most common mistakes we see people make when it comes to sunscreen is that they do not apply enough, nor do they reapply sunscreen often enough when using most. A sunscreen, not a product that says SPF, should be applied to otherwise unprotected skin first thing every morning. The face needs about a dime-sized amount. For a whole-body application, you need about a shot glass full of lotion. If the sunblock you are using contains zinc oxide, you need to reapply it whenever you wash or rub it off. For ALL other sunscreens, you should reapply it hourly if outside or every 2 hours if inside.
- Limiting your options. Sun protection does not end with sunscreen use. To significantly decrease your risk of skin cancer and premature aging, think outside the tube. Wear long-sleeves and pants designed as sun protective. normal clothing does not protect from UVA. Wear a wide-brimmed hat or hat with a sun protective flap that covers the back of the neck. Also, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Stay Protected by Staying Informed
We are proud to serve patients from the Highlands, NC area and beyond. In addition to plastic surgery procedures, we offer a variety of skin services to prevent and treat sun damage. To schedule a visit with us, call (828) 526-3783.