Monday, May 27, 2019

Life with Chronic Conditions: What Sunscreen Should I use?

May is  Skin Cancer Awareness Month and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has recently released its annual guide to  sunscreens. They report that two-thirds of the more than 1,300 sunscreens on the market either don’t provide enough protection or contain ingredients that are especially worrisome — such as oxybenzone, which may have hormone-disrupting qualities dangerous for kids.

There has also been a lot in the news lately about how sunscreen can end up in a wearer’s blood. The US Food and Drug Administration recently reported that the chemicals are present at much higher levels than current government health rules permits. Before you panic and decide not to use sunscreen, recognize that the volunteers in this study put on two times as much sunscreen as people usually apply in everyday use.  JAMA Network

Practice Safe Sun
Using common sense can help reduce risks of a burn and the increased risk of skin cancer. So before discussing what to look for in a sunscreen, make sure you follow the basics:
- Avoid getting burned by covering up
- Stay in the shade
- Plan your day so you avoid being out in midday sun when UV radiation is the highest.
- Don’t forget the sunglasses

Be mindful that certain medications may make you more sensitive to the sun, so be sure to talk to your medical provider and/or pharmacist about your medications and sun sensitivity.

Picking the right sunscreen for you
• Avoid any skin or lip product whose label includes retinyl palmitate, retinol or vitamin A.

Avoid oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and can disrupt the hormone system. Other chemicals identified by the FDA for more research include avobenzone, ecamsule and octocrylene. 

• Don’t combine sunscreen with repellent

• Don’t use sprays

• Apply cream often

• Don’t use old sunscreen. If there is no expiration date on the sunscreen you just purchased, write the date you bought it on the bottle. Sunscreens are required to retain their original strength for at least three years.

• Look for products with
-       zinc oxide, 3 percent avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. They protect skin from harmful UVA radiation.
-       SPF between 15 and 50+

• Check your sunscreen with the EWG sunscreen database.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a product that will have an excellent EWG rating. For example, Equate Baby Zinc, available from Walmart for about $5, has an excellent rating from EWG.

• Because of skin sensitivity, particularly if you are on medications, test any new product on a small patch of skin.

• If you use a dermatologist, check with them about recommendations that work for your skin.

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