Frequent exposure to the sun causes skin changes that can be harmful. It can cause skin changes, such as skin cancer, wrinkles, and age spots. Some sun exposure is required since is the main source of Vitamin D, a vitamin that is important in maintaining good bone health.
The two types of sun rays that can injure the skin are ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA affects the deep layers of skin. UVB damages the outermost layers of the skin and causes sunburn.
You can do a few things to lower your risk and to protect your skin from the sun. This includes using sunscreen and other protective measures such as:
- Reduce sun exposure, particularly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when UV rays are the strongest.
- Remember that the higher you are, the quicker your skin burns with sun exposure. And the start of summer is when UV rays can cause the most skin damage.
- Use sun protection, even on cloudy days. Clouds and haze do not protect you from the sun and can even make UVB rays stronger.
- Avoid surfaces that reflect light, such as water, sand, concrete, snow, and areas that are painted white.
- DO NOT use sun lamps and tanning beds (tanning salons). Spending 15 to 20 minutes at a tanning salon is as dangerous as a full day spent in the sun.
It is important not to rely on sunscreen alone for sun protection. Wearing Hats and sunglasses provide additional measures to protect from the sun.
There are medications that make skin much more sensitive to sunburns. These medications range from antibiotics to heart medications. Talk to your pharmacist if you are planning to spend more time than usual in the sun so you can know your risks and what steps you can take to protect yourself.
Choosing a Sunscreen:
Choose a sunscreen that:
- Blocks both UVA and UVB. These products are labeled as broad spectrum.
- Labeled SPF 30 or higher. SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor”. This number indicates how well the product protects the skin from UVB damage.
- Those that are water resistant, even if your activities do not include swimming. This type of sunscreen stays on your skin longer when your skin gets wet.
Sunscreen for Infants
For infants <6 months of age, avoid sun exposure whenever possible. Seek or create shade using items such as stroller hoods/covers and umbrellas. Infants should wear wide-brimmed hats and lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers the arms and legs. In the exceptional case where sun exposure is unavoidable despite these measures, a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen for babies can be applied to the small exposed areas (e.g., face, back of hands). To date, no data show toxicity from absorption of sunscreen ingredients in infants. Children 6 months of age or older should follow the same sun protection as advised for adults.
- Compendium of Therapeutics for Minor Ailments. Canadian Pharmacists Association(2016)
- Sun Protection- US National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. (2016)
This article was provided by an Rxnet Pharmacist, Rxnet is a virtual pharmacy network that helps plan sponsors optimize their drug plan design to obtain cost efficient solutions for their plan members. We also work with clients to provide access to our member pharmacies through text refills and online refills.
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This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.