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Clinician’s Corner: Sunburn Prevention

Last week we discussed the mechanics of sunscreens and product selection.  Here are some tips about sunscreens before you head to the beach, Altoona Curve or to any other outdoor activities!

UVA Light:  is continuous throughout the day and may exceed the intensity of UVB by up to 1000 fold.  UVA causes photo aging which is the dry, scaling, yellow and deeply wrinkled, thinner & more fragile skin. Photo aging is NOT simply accelerated aging process. UVA exposure is associated with drug reactions, and basal cell cancer.

UVB light: penetrates the epidermis and is responsible for erythema (burn).  Most intense between 10am and 4pm.  More intense in summer months and higher elevation.  A positive effect of UVB exposure is that it induces the production of Vitamin-D in the skin.

Tips for sunburn prevention

  • Avoid long term exposure during peak hours (10am-4pm)
  • Sunglasses: make sure they are UV protected. With cheap dark glasses, pupil dilates allowing more harmful UV rays to damage the eye.  Better not to wear sunglasses than cheap sunglasses that are not UV protected!!!  UV blocking sunglasses also prevent cataracts.
  • Clothing: Hats, long sleeve shirts, and long lightweight pants. A typical summer tee shirt has an SPF of only about 7. Down to 3 if wet. Check out the fabrics “UPF” (Ultraviolet Protection Factor), which indicates what fraction of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate the fabric. A shirt with a UPF of 50, for example, allows just 1/50th of the sun’s UV radiation to reach the skin
  • Hats: Baseball caps leave the ears, neck and lower face unprotected. Wear wide brimmed hats to ensure that the tips of the ears are covered.
  • Automobiles: UVB does not penetrate window glass. Windshields have UVA filters, but side windows do not. Might be wise to use sunscreen in the car depending on the position of the sun

Application and general information for sunscreens

  • Apply 30 minutes before sun exposure, and cover all exposed areas evenly and liberally. Figure 1 oz. per adult application in a swim suit.
  • Water resistant: the formula retains SPF after 40 minutes of activity in water, sweating or perspiring.
  • VERY Water resistant: the formula retains SPF after 80 minutes of activity in water, sweating or perspiring.

Your Thompson Pharmacist is the best resource for protection from the sun.  Feel free to ask for advice about sunscreens, as well as what medications you might be taking than cause an even worse sunburn.  At Thompson Pharmacy, it’s all for YOU!