Most Americans are clueless abut what sunscreen labels may indicate, a new study suggests. Under half of study participants understood what SPF did, while only 23 percent were able to tell which solar protection product was best fitted against sunburns. And only a meager 7 percent knew which sunscreen to use against premature aging.
Four years ago, the FDA forced sunscreen producers to specify on their products’ labels the exact protection against UV-A and UV-B radiation. If the products provided protection against both types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation they were considered “broad spectrum protection.”
Most study participants were either misinformed or lacked basic knowledge on UV-A and UV-B protection. They didn’t know that they should pick a sunscreen with high UV-B protection if they want to stay away from sunburns, and a high UV-A protection if they wanted to prevent skin aging. And only a few participants knew that both types of ultraviolet radiation may lead to skin cancer.
The study was published this week in JAMA Dermatology, and it involved 114 participants.
Almost 93 percent reported that they had bought sunscreen over the course of last year. About 75 percent said that they bought solar protection products to avoid sunburns, while a few more than 65 percent said they wanted to prevent skin cancer.
Study participants decided to buy a certain product because it either had a high sun protection factor (SPF) or a high water and sweat resistance. Nevertheless only 43 percent knew how much SPF was good for them, while only 38 percent could tell which products protected against skin cancer.
Researchers concluded that the terms used for sunscreen labeling “may still be confusing to consumers.” But skin cancer doctors were slightly surprised. Most of them knew from their patients about the issue.
Dr. Doris Day from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said that her patients knew very little about how much, how long, and how often sunscreen should be used.
Dr. Day noted that most of people think that sunscreen is designed just for beach use. But any type of exposure to intense sunlight is bad for their skin and may later lead to cancer and skin aging.
Experts recommend we should buy sunscreen with at least SPF 30. They also said that there is no such thing as a sweat- or waterproof solar protection product. There are only sweat- or water-resistant ones.
They also said that sun protection factor, or the SPF, shows how much time we need before we get a sunburn. For instance if you burn in 10 minutes, with a SPF 30 sunscreen on your skin you should need 300 minutes to get sun burned. Nevertheless, you should reapply the sunscreen, regardless of its SPF, every two hours, doctors recommend.
Also, water-resistant sunscreens last up to 40 minutes in water, while very resistant ones can last up to double the time. You should also give your sunscreen some time before going for a swim in order to get properly absorbed into your skin.
Image Source: Air-tan
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