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Dermatology Diaries

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sunscreen, Sunblock And Sun Protection

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Tan Removal and Pigmentation Treatment - Dr Niketa - New Delhi

Ever wondered why your Mom or Granny had such wonderful skin while you fight pigmentation, wrinkles and lifeless skin each day? Blame it on the changing lifestyle and the global warming! While changing your lifestyle involves a lot of resilience and getting a control over the global warming issue will take some time; there is one thing that you can do to salvage your skin health… Use a sunscreen daily!

Let’s answer some of the common sunscreen queries and get to know them better…

What is a sunscreen? Is there a difference between a ‘sunscreen’ and a ‘sunblock’?
The basic role of a sunscreen and sunblock is the same. They protect your skin from the harmful UV rays. The difference is that a sunblock reflects the UV rays like a mirror and prevents them from reaching your skin and a sunscreen absorbs the UV rays and prevents them from entering your skin.

Do I need to use a sunscreen even when I am indoors?
Yes. Sunscreens protect your skin from the UV rays that cause premature aging, patchy skin tone, tanning and worst of all, skin cancers. The most common source of UV rays is the sun or daylight. These rays are capable of getting deflected and scattered. So even if you are indoors but are in daylight, the rays are still hitting your skin. Besides, there are a number of other sources of UV rays, most common being light bulbs and computer screens.

What is the right way of using a sunscreen?
The general notion is that sunscreens should be applied 20 minutes before stepping outdoors. But the ideal thing to do would be to apply it after you wash your face or have a bath in the morning. And re-apply 3 hourly. Think 9am- 12 noon- 3pm. Apply the sunscreen liberally. You should be using about 1 teaspoon (5ml) to cover your face and neck. About a handful (30ml) is required to cover all exposed areas. That way your skin is completely protected.

How do I know which sunscreen is right for me?
Generally SPF 30 reapplied 3 hourly gives adequate protection. If you have pigmentation or an overtly uneven skin tone then a sunscreen with a higher SPF like SPF 50 is more suitable. People who sweat a lot should use 'Sweat proof' sunscreens. Swimmers and those off to beach vacations should pick a 'Water Resistant' sunscreen that protects for 40 minutes or 'Water proof' sunscreen that protects for 80 minutes in water. Reapplication of these sunscreens is required after profuse sweating and after towel drying. Always pick a ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreen.

What does ‘broad spectrum’ mean? What does SPF mean?
Broad spectrum sunscreens are those that protect you from UVA as well as UVB rays. SPF means Sun Protection Factor. It measures the effectiveness of the sunscreen in terms of filtering the UVB rays. PA factor is the measure of effectiveness in protecting against UVA rays. It is graded as ‘+’ for mild, ‘++’ moderate and ‘+++’ for maximum protection.

How can I wear a sunscreen everyday when it is so very greasy and uncomfortable?
Not all sunscreens are greasy. If you have an oily skin type pick a 'physical sunblock' that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. You can also pick a calamine based or gel based sunscreen. A simple trick to reduce the greasiness of the sunscreen is to dab a tissue firmly on the skin 20 minutes after sunscreen application. Do not rub or wipe. Just dab or blot. Alternatively, you can dust some mineral loose powder after application of the sunscreen for a matte look.

Keep looking beautiful,
Dr Niketa
best skin doctor in delhi