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It's Almost Summer. Do you Know your Sunscreen?

skincareSummertime equals outdoor time for many families. And the more time we spend in the sun the greater our chance for sunburn. According to research, more people today are using sunscreen than previous generations. However, studies also indicate a large lack of awareness when it comes to the nature of sunscreen in general.

What does Sunscreen Really do?

When you apply sunscreen your expectation is that it will protect you from sunburn, but how does it work?

Sunscreen products are formulated with ingredients that reflect sunlight or absorb particles of light, essentially scattering it or blocking it before it can penetrate the epidermis. The SPF, or sun protection factor, indicates the percentage of UVB rays it filters. SPF is not an indicator for UVA blockage.

Many people mistakenly believe that a product's SPF number equates to overall strength. For instance, sunscreen with SPF 100 is thought to block all damaging rays. In reality, SPF is a more a measurement of time, not strength. SPF 30, for instance, means you can stay in the sun 30 times longer without sunburn than if you had no sunscreen. So, if you would normally burn within one minute of being in the sun, which some people feel they do, SPF 30 we keep you protected from sunburn for 30 minutes.

Sun protection factor also relates to the filtering capabilities of a given product. However double the SPF does not mean double the strength. SPF 30 effectively filters approximately 97% of UVB rays. SPF 50 only provides 1% greater protection, filtering 98% of UVB rays.

What your Skin Needs

Clearly, sunscreen is a necessity. Experts believe that most people receive adequate protection from an SPF 30, broad spectrum sunscreen. This type of product prevents too much penetration of both UVA and UVB rays. Additionally, it is advisable to visit your dermatologist on an annual basis to evaluate your skin for skin cancer. Experts believe that routine skin cancer screenings are a major reason for the decrease in deaths attributed to skin cancer.

We are happy to speak with you about skin cancer screening and about sunscreen. Contact Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center at 610-594-6660.

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