Showing posts with label sunscreen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sunscreen. Show all posts

Monday, July 18, 2016

Five Ways to Stay Safe in the Sun


The sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays are sneaky. They are invisible and can reach you by reflecting off another surface (like pool water!). In fact, they can even pass through glass, which is why most of us have more sun damage on the left side of our face from exposure while driving, according to skincancer.org. No surprise then that many of us wrongly assume we are protected from harmful rays when we’re often not. This is a dangerous assumption as UV exposure is the leading cause of melanoma.

Since it is UV Safety Month, we’re sharing the top five ways you can protect yourself (and others) from UV rays, so that you can relax when you’re having fun in the sun.

#1 – Use Common Sense as Your First Line of Defense


According to the FDA, over-reliance on sunscreen is a risk. Unfortunately, it is easy to miss small patches of skin when applying sunscreen – which is enough to leave you at risk for sunburn and its associated long-term risks. So, the best move is to begin with common sense:
  • Avoid midday exposure when the sun is highest in the sky. This is when sunrays are most dangerous.
  • Wear protective clothing over exposed skin, such as long-sleeved shirts/pants, and a hat with a broad brim. 
  • Protect your eyes with sunglasses. 
  • Favor the shade.
Use your sunscreen as your second line of defense, not the first.

#2 – Watch Out for Uncovered Spots


When you’re slathering on that sunscreen and racing for the beach or the pool, it’s easy to assume that you are “mostly” protected. Make sure not to miss easily and commonly overlooked areas including:
  • Ear lobes
  • Eye lids 
  • Lips (use lip balm with SPF protection) 
  • Bald spots 
  • Neck 
  • Palms of your hands 
  • Soles of your feet 
  • Your back 
  • The edges of your swimsuit or top (as they shift, unprotected skin gets exposed to the sun)

#3 – Check Sun Lotion Expiration Dates


Yes, it actually does matter how old your sunscreen is. Most likely, it has a printed expiration date. Once it has expired, throw it away immediately. The product’s active ingredients become less effective over time. In fact, the safest thing to do is throw away all of your unused sunscreen on an annual basis and replenish your stock with brand new bottles.

#4 – For Reliable SPF, Use Chemical-Based Sunscreens


Recent research by Consumer Reports shows that a troubling 48% of all sunscreen products do not provide the SPF rating that they claim on their packaging. Many people choose mineral-based sunscreens over chemical-based sunscreens for health reasons, but the research showed that only 26% of mineral sunscreens met the SPF levels claimed on their packaging. To play it safe, consider using one of the chemical-based sunscreen lotions, which score the highest in terms of SPF reliability.

#5 – Avoid Potentially Harmful Sunscreen Ingredients


Ingredients found in some sunscreen formulas present risks that are best avoided. For example, though vitamin A is generally good for us, the form of vitamin A often used in lotions can actually accelerate the development of skin tumors if applied in sunlight. And some fragrances commonly used in sunscreen have been linked to skin tumors. When you’re applying sunscreen, the best bet is to do so when you are clean and free from other products.

More Resources


Avoiding sun-related health issues is a key concern during the summer; no one wants to spend a day of nice weather stuck inside of a doctor’s office or hospital dealing with sunburn, sun poisoning, dehydration, or related issues. Of course, if you find yourself in this position, we can help.

Use the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card to ensure that you save on any of your prescriptions. At least if you’re suffering from an illness, you won’t have to worry about the price of your medications.

If you don’t already have a card, you can easily download a free card online. You can also request a card by calling 1-800-222-2818. Not interested in carrying the card with you? There’s an app (for Apple and Android) available here.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sunscreen or Sun Exposure–Which is Worse?

Is Sunscreen Bad for You?

We all know that too much sun is certainly bad for us, if not from the pain of sunburn then from the long-term consequences of sun exposure, such as the risk of deadly melanoma skin cancer.

Recently however, new studies and data indicate that our reliance on sunscreen lotions or sprays for protection could potentially be a big mistake.  Some reports indicate that certain ingredients in modern sunscreens present health risks.  As well,the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified two major problems regarding sunscreen usage, both related to human error: improper application and over-reliance on sunscreen.

Sunscreen danger #1: Improper application


Even when we take the precaution of applying sunscreen before going out, FDA research indicates that, too often, we do not properly apply sunscreen. Common errors in sunscreen application include:
  • Not applying enough sunscreen: According to research, the amount of sunscreen we apply is often insufficient for adequate protection.
  • Not applying sunscreen evenly:  Most often, people apply sun screen lotion on themselves. But it is very difficult to apply sunscreen evenly and thoroughly even on someone else – nearly impossible to do so on ourselves, especially on the back. Missing a single spot exposes the sunbather to harmful sunrays and potential burn.
  • Inhaling sunscreen spray vapor: Many of the chemical ingredients of sunscreen are only considered safe for external use. However, the increasing popularity of sunscreen sprays increases the need for caution when applying them, avoiding contact with the mouth or nose.
  • Not reapplying sunscreen often enough:  Most sunscreens recommend reapplying after a certain amount of time. The FDA warns that there is no such thing as a truly waterproof or sweat-proof sunscreen.  Water resistant, yes. Waterproof: no. This is why the FDA recommends re-applying sunscreen every two hours, or even more often if the sunscreen labeling recommends it and if you are going in and out of the water or are perspiring significantly.  New labeling standards from the FDA require manufacturers to identify the water resistance timeframe.

Sunscreen danger #2: Over-reliance on sunscreen


In the days before there was any such thing as sunscreen lotion, people still protected themselves from sunburn by using certain common sense practices, such as covering exposed skin with clothing, limiting the amount of time spent in the sun, or avoiding sun exposure during the hottest part of the day.
Too often these days, common sense practices have been replaced by a strong reliance on the protective properties of sunscreen lotions and sunscreen sprays. But, as noted above, all it takes is one missed area of skin exposure when applying sunscreen to leave you or your child vulnerable to sunburn and its potentially long-lasting dangers.

Sunscreen danger #3: dangerous sunscreen ingredients


Some of the ingredients found in certain sunscreen formulas may be best avoided:
  • Vitamin A.  While vitamin A is generally assumed to be good for us, a recent study showed that the form of vitamin A often used in lotions, retinyl palmitate, can actually accelerate the development of skin tumors and lesions if applied to your skin in sunlight.
  • Petroleum-based fragrances. Those tropical scents that you enjoy when applying sunscreen can be problematic. For some, allergic reactions are common. For all, the petroleum-based fragrances commonly used in sunscreen have been linked to skin tumors.
  • Nanoparticles. Many sunscreen lotions with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as ingredients contain nanoparticles – microscopic particles about the same width as a human hair.  Some research indicates that nanoparticles can present health risks, depending on their size and shape – something completely unregulated today.
  • Oxybenzone. - One of the most popular ingredients in modern sunscreens, oxybenzone is a chemical known to disrupt hormones, with the risk being highest for children.

Solutions for safe sun exposure


There are many ways you can safely enjoy your time in the sun.  Recommendations from the FDA and other sources include the following:
  • Follow the recommendations in the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide to avoid potentially harmful sunscreen ingredients.
  • Use sunscreens with broad spectrum SPF values of 15 or higher regularly and as directed.
  • Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is when sunrays are most dangerous.
  • Cover skin exposed to the sun with clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants, and broad-brimmed hats. And protect the eyes with sunglasses.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, and even more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water.
  • When using spray sunscreens, avoid spraying anywhere near the mouth or nose. The safer solution: use the spray on your hands, and then use your hands to transfer the lotion carefully to the face.
Beyond the steps to protect yourself, the FDA continues to take steps to protect the public. The measures they have recently taken or are in the process of taking include the following:
  • Finalizing regulations to establish standards for testing the effectiveness of sunscreen products and require labeling that accurately reflects test results
  • Proposing a regulation to limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labeling to “SPF 50+” (According to FDA research, there is no advantage to going higher than SPF 50)
  • Performing a data request to have identified the relative safety and effectiveness for different kinds of sunscreen products (e.g., sprays vs. lotions, etc.)
  • Creating guidance for sunscreen manufacturers on how to test and label their products in light of these new measures.talk with
  • Requiring sunscreen manufacturers to meet certain minimum standards in order to use the labeling "broad-spectrum"
Following these guidelines, you should still be able to enjoy your time in the sun.
 

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer