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Boggio Family of Pharmacies

Boggios: A healthy choice for your whole life

Category Archives: Sunscreen

Sometimes the sunscreen aisle can be difficult to navigate.  However, it is important to understand what you are buying.  There were around 60,000 new cases of melanoma (an increase of 2.5% per year in the past decade) and around 8,000 deaths from melanoma in the U.S. in 2006.

SPF is often misunderstood.  SPF applies only to UVB rays.  SPF is a number that estimates how long a person can stay in the sun without an obvious sunburn.    If a person would burn in 10 minutes with no protection, than an SPF of 15 will protect fifteen times longer or for 150 minutes, and SPF of 30 would protect thirty times longer or 300 minutes.

UVA protection is the other side of the story.  UVA rays cause skin aging and skin cancer but not a visible sunburn.  As of yet there is no rating for UVA protection.  In order to get UVA protection you need to read the label.  Look for sunscreens labeled broad-spectrum.  Or, look for ingredients that are UVA blockers such as Mexoryl SX, avobenzone, zinc oxide, or titanium.

Sometimes patients complain of sensitivity or rash from their sunscreen.  These patients should look for a sunscreen blocker with either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.  It is the other ingredients in sunscreens which can cause the irritation.

Even if a product is listed as water resistant it still needs to be reapplied after swimming or heavy sweating.  It may only be effective for up to 40 minutes in water.

Sunscreen needs to be applied 20 minutes before exposure and reapplied every 2 hours.  About one ounce is needed to cover the full body.

Don’t buy sunscreen/ bug repellant combo products.  Sunscreen should be applied before insect repellent.  Insect repellent doesn’t need to be reapplied as frequently as sunscreen and applying them at the same time may increase the absorption of DEET.

UVA rays can increase a patient’s sensitivity to certain medications and cause photosensitivity reactions.  A broad-spectrum sunscreen will help protect against this, however it may be best to avoid too much sun exposure if you are taking any of the following classes of medications.   These include: NSAIDS, certain antibiotics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, diuretics, and oral contraceptives.  If you’re not sure and you are starting a new medication ask your pharmacist if there is any problem with sun exposure.

Tanning booths are not necessarily a safe way to tan either.  Newer tanning devices expose a person to mostly UVA rays.  Although UVA doesn’t cause burning it can cause melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.  If you are concerned about your health and safety it is probably best to avoid them.

If you do get a sunburn it is best to apply cool compresses and a good moisturizer.  It you put the lotion in the fridge it will have an added cooling effect.  Avoid gels and ointments as they can hold the heat in and make your burn feel worse.

Don’t forget simple strategies such as wearing a hat and sunglasses, and you will be able to enjoy the outdoors safely all summer long.