Did You Know?
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. With over 1 million people diagnosed each year, the statistics are daunting; someone will die every hour from melanoma. The tragedy lies in the fact that skin cancer is curable. Early detection and protection are imperative for survival.
Are You Wearing Enough Sun Protection?
The intense Florida sun beams cancer causing UVA and UVB rays through car windows, reflects off the water, even under beach umbrellas, and scorches revealed skin where hats and clothing don’t cover. Even when it isn’t a typical sunny day, cancer causing rays penetrate through the clouds leaving behind a damaging sunburn.
If you’re not wearing a daily dose of sun protection, more than likely you may be confused by the meaning of SPF, the numbers that follow, and the undefined terminology of “broad spectrum.”
Recently, the FDA announced changes to the labeling for sunscreen in an effort to help consumers find products that help reduce the risk of skin cancer and early aging. To better understand these new guidelines on sunscreen, the experts of Riverchase Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery shed some light on the facts about sunscreen.
Q. What is SPF and what is the meaning of broad spectrum?
A. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor which is a scoring system for UVB protection. This has no relationship to UVA protection. A simple mathematical trick to understand the amount of protection is to take 1/SPF to see how much UVB is getting through. 1/30 = about 3.33%, thus 96.7% protection. 1/50 = 2%, thus 98% protection. 1/100 = 1%, thus 99% protection. Broad spectrum refers to the protection of both UVA and UVB rays.
Q. What do you recommend for daily SPF and for all day outdoor activities?
A. I personally like 40-50. More is fine, but is not necessarily more protective. However, there are some very good sunscreens that have higher numbers, but it is not the number that makes it a great one, it is a good sunscreen because of its components. My choice of product is Vanicream 60 Sport which can be purchased over the counter.
Read Between The Wrinkles
Q. What are the most important ingredients in a SPF?
A. Look for one of the following ingredients in your sunscreen in order to make sure you are getting both UVA and UVB “broad-spectrum” coverage: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone (Parsol 1789), or Mexoryl (ecamsule). The SPF rating on the bottle is not enough to go by as the number on the bottle only tells you how much UVB protection you are getting. Dermatologists recommend SPF 30 with one of the above ingredients. Patients with sensitive skin should look for sunscreens with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the main ingredients. There are many sunscreens available that are specifically made for sensitive skin (usually labeled as sensitive skin or baby formulations) that have no chemical sunscreens that can cause allergic reactions. The chemical sunscreens can also aggravate eczema, rosacea, and other hypersensitivity conditions. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are mineral physical blockers that do not get absorbed into the skin. They provide a physical barrier which is better tolerated by all forms of sensitive skin. Newer formulations are micronized and not as white on the skin as the older formulations.
Some examples over the counter are: Neutrogena Sensitive Skin, Aveeno Sensitive Skin, Blue Lizard Sensitive Skin, or Vanicream. Riverchase physicians recommend recommends MDSolar Science for a cosmetic medical grade sunscreen which can be purchased in a physician’s office.
Q. Besides protection from skin cancer, what other benefits does sunscreen offer?
A. Regular sunscreen use can prevent photoaging and photodamage. Photodamage (sun damage) makes us look older by causing premature wrinkling, age spots (brown spots),leathery skin, and sagging of the skin. Regular sunscreen use also prevents DNA damage which can lead to precancerous lesions of the skin. These precancerous lesions look like red, rough blotches that feel like sandpaper.
Key Factors in Preventing Skin Cancer
Wearing a daily sunscreen, performing periodic self examinations, and an annual visit to the dermatologist are key factors in preventing skin cancer. For more information on determining what kind of sunscreen is best for you and your family, contact Riverchase Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, Southwest Florida’s most comprehensive skin center offering non-surgical radiation therapy, The Camisa Psoriasis Center & Laser and Skin Cancer Institute, three Fellowship-trained Mohs surgeons, advanced cosmetic dermatology, and an experienced plastic surgeon on staff.
Ryan Jawitz, D.O., is a dermatologist with extensive training and specializes in dermatologic surgery and Mohs Micrographic surgery as well as cosmetic rejuvenation techniques. Dr. Jawitz is now accepting new patients – without a wait. Call (941) 564-1542 to schedule your appointment at Riverchase Dermatology in North Port.