June 6, 2006
Contact: Tom Capezzuto
UMDNJ Dermatologist Warns Beach Goers to Wear Sunscreen Protection
Read the Labels to Determine Which SPF is Safest for You
NEW BRUNSWICK—Sunburn, and the effects from the sun, are not seasonal but most people treat it that way. Although sunscreen should be used year?round for skin protection, we’re all more aware of it during the hot summer months and that’s when we often rely on it for protection, says a dermatologist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Using sunscreen properly is one of the best ways to protect your skin from harmful sun rays, says Dr. Babar Rao, chief of Department of Dermatology at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick.
Choosing the proper sunscreen can be confusing. Before heading out to the beach or pool, look for three things in a sunscreen:
1) Ultraviolet protection. UV radiation, which emanates from sunlight and tanning beds predominantly, causes premature aging of the skin and contributes to sunburn and wrinkles. Overexposure to UV may contribute to melanoma and may lead to premature cataracts.
There are two types of UV radiation. Ultraviolet A radiation, or UVA, is the shorter wavelength radiation that tends to damage tissue found just below the outermost epidermal layer of skin. Ultraviolet B, or UVB, has a longer wavelength and is the type of radiation that causes sunburn. Dr. Rao suggests purchasing a sunscreen product that is designed to protect against both types of rays.
2) Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, is listed on all labels of sunscreen products, and may range from as low as two to as high as 50 or more. The average SPF is 15 or 30, indicative of the amount of time to be in the sun without burning.
3) Water proof vs. water-resistant sunscreen products. Perspiration or contact with water will diminish a sunscreen’s effectiveness, and "water resistant" is not the same as "water proof." If you use "water resistant" sunscreen, then apply it liberally and frequently to ensure it is protecting you. If you have thinning hair or none at all, apply sunscreen to your scalp as well. Use a sunscreen lip balm to protect your lips, and don’t forget to apply a little on your eyelids if you are not wearing sunglasses since they are sensitive and burn easily.
"As a precaution it’s best to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest," said Dr. Rao. "If you burn easily, wear as much protective clothing as possible and limit your time under the sun."