Medical Hex

The Benefits of Sunscreen

Overview

Sunscreens (also known as sunblock) are widely used by general public due to their photo-protective properties, including prevention of malignant skin damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays (UV), as well as protection from skin aging.

An ideal sunscreen must provide protection against both UVA and UVB radiation, and it should also be photo-stable. Most of the incident UV radiation will be absorbed by the active ingredients of sunscreen, hence it will not reach your skin to affect it.

Sunscreens with higher SPF numbers provide a greater protection form UV radiation. However, no sunscreen is able to absorb all of the UV rays, and there’ll always be a small portion of UV radiation that passes and damages the skin.

How to use sunscreen

The main use of sunscreen is to protect the skin from harmful UV radiations. It has been shown that it is effective in preventing sunburn and skin cancer.

  • Apply sunscreen to all the areas that will be exposed nearly 15-30 minutes before they are exposed to sunlight. An amount of 2-3 tablespoons for the body and 1-2 teaspoons for the face and neck would be enough.
  • Reapplication of sunscreen is necessary every 2 hours, especially after some activities that may remove the sunscreen layer, such as swimming or sweating.

Protection from skin cancer and melanoma

It has been shown that regular sunscreen use can prevent melanoma (a type of skin cancer). To fully prevent skin cancer, it is recommended to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen containing UVA and UVB filters, and sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. The higher SPF number, the better the UV protection.

UV penetration into the layers of skin

Prevents signs of aging

Using sunscreens help in reducing and preventing photoaging (premature skin aging). It will protect the skin from developing fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of aging.

premature skin aging

Skin protection from Sunburn

Sunburn is when the skin turn red and hurts, and this caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage to the outer layer of the skin after exposure to sunlight. Using sunscreen will help to protect your skin from sunburns even on cloudy days.

Skin protection from Sunburn

Protection against immunosuppression

The use of sunscreen has also been shown to provide protection to the immune system from immune radiations, but its effectiveness is not clear yet.

References

1. Li, H., Colantonio, S., Dawson, A., Lin, X. and Beecker, J. (2019). Sunscreen Application, Safety, and Sun Protection: The Evidence. Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, 23(4), pp.357–369.

2. Mancuso, J. B., Maruthi, R., Wang, S. Q., & Lim, H. W. (2017). Sunscreens: An Update. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 18(5), 643–650. doi:10.1007/s40257-017-0290-0

3. Zoe Diana Draelos and Lim, H.W. (2009). Clinical guide to sunscreens and photoprotection. New York Informa Healthcare C.

4. Young, A.R., Claveau, J. and Rossi, A.B., 2017. Ultraviolet radiation and the skin: Photobiology and sunscreen photoprotection. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 76(3), pp.S100-S109.

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