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Sunscreen Issues and Skin Cancer

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 25 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Sunscreen; Suntan Lotion; Sun Block;

Never has it been more advisable to use sunscreen than in today’s society. With skin cancer rates increasing and the use of sunbeds becoming common in many households, we should be doing all we can to try and reduce the risks to our health.

What are the Risks From the Sun?

The sun's rays contain both UVA and UVB rays. UVA, or ultra-violet type A rays are generally considered by the public to be less harmful than UVB rays, as they do not cause reddening and burning of the skin. Experts however continue to research this area as they believe long-term effects to skin and resulting cancers can also be blamed on these rays.

Many of the suncreams for sale in the UK do not contain protection against UVA rays, so please do ensure than the labels are read correctly to guarantee the best possible protection for yourself and your family.

UVB, ultra-violet type B rays are known to be very dangerous and can damage skin irreparably and cause skin cancers and it is protection against these rays that is contained in most of the sunscreen products.

What Is Sunscreen?

Sunscreens are products that have been developed to help people protect themselves fro the harmful rays of the sun. They come in wide variety of strengths, all offering different levels of protection.If the container does not mention an SPF rating (sun protection factor) then the chances are it is purely a moisturising cream and will offer no protection at all.

SPF ratings are given as a guide to the strength of protection offered by the product. As a general rule the SPF indicates the amount of time the person can spend in the sun without becoming burned, for example an SPF 12 rating suggests that the person will be protected for up to 12 hours following application. However, this is purely a rough guide and does not take into account the persons skin type, age, previous damage to the skin, types of activities being pursued, the amount of cream applied or the skins general absorbency rate.

Types of Sunscreen

Sunscreen can be found in many different forms and types, in fact the choice is so wide and varied, it can be confusing deciding which type is the most suitable for each individuals use.Available from most chemists and supermarkets, there are creams and sprays often with a variety of terminology used such as suntan cream, lotion and sun-block to name a few, and it can be mind boggling deciphering the jargon around each product.

The general rules in the UK are that sun-block offers a total screen from the harmful rays of the sun, a cream and a lotion are topical applications that are applied by hand to the required areas, and a spray is literally a lotion that comes out of a pump action bottle, which some people find more suitable to use than a plain bottle. It really is a matter of personal preference.

It is important to remember to apply lotions to the face, ears hands and toes as these areas are often overlooked and can become sore very easily.Eyes should also be protected using eyewear that blocks out the harmful UVA and UVB rays.

The Use of Sunscreen for Children

It is recommended that total sun block is used for children as their skin is so delicate and susceptible to burning. Labelling systems are set to change in the next few years in the UK with the term sun block becoming less and less used as it has been found to be misleading as there are no definite guarantees that total protection from the sun can be assured. Try and find a label that offers ‘very high protection’ with the highest SPF rating available for use in children and apply frequently. Always use a waterproof variety as these stay on for longer.

Sunscreen issues can be very confusing and complicated in current society due to the huge variety of products available and differences in terminology.Always read the label thoroughly and seek advice if you are unsure.

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