Sun Protection and Sunscreens

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Do all tanning products contain sunscreens?

No, some don't. Tanning products such as self-tanners that don't contain sunscreen are required by the FDA to carry a warning label alerting consumers to the dangers of unprotected sunbathing.

What kind of sunglasses offer protection against UV rays?

Only those that provide 100% protection against UVA and UVB radiation, as stated on the label at the time of purchase, should be worn for protection.

Is sunscreen protection necessary in the winter?

Yes, UV radiation, though not as intense in the winter, still poses a threat, especially when rays reflect off snow. Skiers should also note that the degree of exposure to the sun's radiation increases 4% for every 1,000-foot increase in altitude. There is no safe time of year when it comes to UV radiation. The same applies to weather conditions. Even on a cloudy day, 80% of the sun's ultraviolet rays pass through the clouds and reach the earth.

Are a good sunscreen and sunglasses enough?

No, they are only one part of a complete sun-protection program. An effective program also includes limiting sun exposure and wearing protective clothing.

REFERENCES:

American Melanoma Foundation. "Facts About Sunscreen." <http://www.melanomafoundation.org/prevention/facts.htm>.

Environmental Working Group. "EWG's 2015 Guide to Sunscreens." <http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/>.

Holman, Dawn M., et al. "Patterns of sunscreen use on the face and other exposed skin among US adults." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology May 19, 2015. <http://www.eblue.org/article/S0190-9622(15)01352-3/abstract>.

United States. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Sunscreen." Mar. 19, 2014. <http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/
BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/UnderstandingOver-the-CounterMedicines/ucm239463.htm>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/12/2015
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  • Sunscreen - Tips for Reapplying

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  • Sunscreen - Sunburn Prevention

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  • Sunscreen - Best Types

    What is the best brand of sunscreen, in your experience?

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  • Sunscreen - Sunburns in Winter

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