If you’ve lived in Arizona for any time at all you realize it’s sunny here. Really sunny. In fact, we get an average of 296 days of sun each year. That’s why regular and proper use of sunblock isn’t just a recommendation, it’s a must
Dermatologists want to increase the quality of your life. Their goal is not to completely take away your enjoyable outdoor activities in order to protect your skin. In fact, complete sun avoidance is near impossible, especially in our state. Therefore, the regular use of sunscreens is a practical compromise.
Routine use of sunscreen will significantly reduce your risk of developing skin cancers of all kinds including basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and melanomas. Additionally, another simple reason to use sunscreens is to prevent the agony and sting of a sunburn! No one deserves to feel the discomfort of sunburned skin, especially since it’s so easy to prevent.
Sunblock or sunscreen? Did you know there is a difference?
Sunblock includes ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These have been popularized historically by lifeguards often seen with a thick, pasty-white layer of sunblock over their noses. Sunblock has come a long way since the 1960s when the SPF rating factor was introduced. Many of today’s sunblock options are not visible after application onto the skin. Sunblock is a great option for people who feel their skin is too sensitive for traditional sunscreens.
Sunscreens are typically more easily applied to the skin when compared to sunblock. Most of my patients search for a sunscreen that is light and non-greasy. To find a sunscreen like this, try one with “ultra-sheer” printed on the label. Brands like Neutrogena and La Roche Posay are examples of sunscreens recommended by dermatologists. Frankly, the key is to find one that works for you and your family’s needs without breaking the piggybank.
Now, let’s talk sun protection factor – better known as SPF. An SPF of 30-50 is the best choice for most patients. This should be applied to all sun-exposed skin 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and re-applied every 2-3 hours. I also like to remind patients to apply an adequate layer of sunblock/sunscreen to the skin. Most of us are too skimpy on the SPF. My rule of thumb is about one-ounce of sunblock for each application. This is about the equivalent of a shot glass.
A few other sun protection tips to consider:
- Try to stay out of the sun between 10:00 am-4:00 pm (during peak sun intensity.) This will yield tremendous skin protection.
- Cover up. Wearing clothing actually provides a physical barrier between your skin and the sun. Tighter weaved, thicker material is the best option.
- Makeup with SPF can provide a small bit of sun protection. Even foundation makeup without added sunscreen can give you a small amount of SPF (SPF of 1-5.)
Written by: Andrew Newman, DO Medical Dermatology at Affiliated Dermatology
Dr. Newman began his residency training in Dermatology with Affiliated Dermatology in July 2017. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Physiology from California State University- Long Beach, CA. He then spent 2 years studying pharmaceuticals at the University of Southern California before completing his Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University- CA. Dr. Newman then trained at Mclaren-Oakland Hospital in Michigan where he completed his medical internship. He has been featured on Money Radio 105.3 FM, KTAR 92.3 FM, and Health Central, and he has published articles in prestigious medical journals. Dr. Newman loves being a skin doctor and he prides himself on his dedication toward healing his patients. Outside of the office, Dr. Newman spends his time making music on guitar and piano or exploring Arizona with his wife and dog. To learn more, visit www.affderm.com.