Summer will officially be here in just a few weeks, and the American Academy of Dermatology is reminding sun-seekers to protect their skin while enjoying the weather. According to experts, using sunscreen is an effective way to prevent damage from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can lead to deadly cancers such as melanoma.
Beauty trends wax and wane over time, and tanning is currently a popular activity for men and women alike. Too much sun without enough protection, however, might be asking for trouble. The Academy reports that more than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year and that an estimated one in five Americans will develop the disease in their lifetime. About 75 percent of skin cancer deaths are caused by melanoma, the incidence of which has been increasing over the past three decades.
This is the reason why skincare experts continually tell people to apply sunscreen before heading outdoors.
These products are regulated as over-the-counter drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are available in many different varieties. They contain at least one active ingredient that works to absorb, scatter or reflect UV light, such as oxybenzone. Some media reports have questioned the potential health risks associated with this compound, but FDA scientists say that it is perfectly safe to use.
“Contrary to recent reports, available scientific literature and decades of public use does not support a link between oxybenzone in sunscreen and significant health issues in humans,” said Ronald L. Moy, president of the Academy. “The FDA has approved oxybenzone in sunscreen for use on children older than six months, and dermatologists continue to encourage protecting [kids] by playing in the shade and applying broad-spectrum sunscreen.”
Other compounds commonly found in protective products include retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that may help counteract the aging effects of UV exposure. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are also found in many sunscreens, and generally leave a white residue on the skin that appears to vanish by converting into smaller nanoparticles, which enhances their ability to block UV light.
Although reliable techniques such as laser skin rejuvenation can help improve sun-damaged skin, protecting yourself with sunscreen in the first place is a good idea. Applying the product – and popping a bottle of it into your bag before heading out – can help everyone in the family stay safe while enjoying a little fun in the sun.