Medical Minute: Sunscreen and Aging

October 27, 2014

Today we’re going to talk about sunscreen and ways to protect our skin from sun damage. In another Medical Minute, I spoke about needing protection against both damaging types of Ultraviolet or UV rays.

SPF (the number you see on your sunscreen bottles) is an acronym for Sun Protection Factor. It primarily measures protection against UVB rays, but new guidelines are helping consumers understand whether products help against UVA rays as well. This is very important as it’s critical for us to use sun protection products that block both UVA and UVB rays. And we should not be protecting ourselves only on certain occasions; incidental exposure matters! Every moment that our skin is exposed to the sun, its radiation is creating some skin damage. Skin damage from the sun doesn’t just occur when you’re spending a day at the beach; it also occurs when you’re walking from your home to your mailbox or driving your car.

To help protect our skin, it is critical to wear sun protection every day on all exposed areas of our skin. Sun damage is cumulative, and years of daily small sun exposure adds up. Recent Research from Australia shows that daily use of sun protection resulted in 44% less evidence of skin aging as compared to those who only wore it occasionally. These results have more significance than simply preventing skin aging. The same sun exposure that ages our skin also contributes to skin cancers. Protecting our skin from the sun doesn’t just help us look younger; it also helps us stay healthier by reducing our chances of skin cancer.

I hope you found this interesting and I invite you come back and watch again for our next medical minute.