How the New Sunscreen Guidelines Help You Choose Skin Protection

An AAHPO Medical Alert



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New regulations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require sunscreen products to be tested against two types of sun exposure that cause sunburn: premature aging of the skin and skin cancer. The rays, known as UVA and UVB, come from sunlight, and UVB is the primary cause of skin cancer.


What does this mean for beach goers and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds? Fortunately, we have dermatologist Sylvie D. Khorenian, MD to help us understand.

Every year, two million Americans are treated for the two most common forms of skin cancer: basal cell and squamous cell. Last year, more than 68,000 people were diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of the disease.

"Protection from sun exposure is extremely important at all ages, including a young age. Sunburn in childhood may lead to cancer later in life," noted Dr. Khorenian.

Under the new regulations, for a sunscreen product to receive the designation "broad spectrum" protection, it must have an SPF of 15 or higher, and may say on the label that it reduces the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.

Any product that is not "broad spectrum" or has an SPF between 2 and 14 will be required to to have a warning that states the sunscreen has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or premature skin aging.

Terms like "sun block," "waterproof," and "sweatproof" will no longer be allowed on sunscreen packaging.

Sunscreen manufacturers now must label their products "water resistant" and state whether the sunscreen is effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes. Those that are not "water resistant" must carry a warning for consumers if they are going to be exposed to either water or perspiration.

"These changes to sunscreen labels are an important part of helping patients have the information they need so they can choose the right sun protection for themselves and their families," said Dr. Khorenian.

The FDA also proposed a new regulation that would limit the SPF value on sunscreens to 50 because there is no evidence any higher number provides more protection than 50.

The new information, which has been under consideration for the FDA for more than 30 years, must be on all sunscreen products by the summer of 2012.

Final word: Be familiar with your own skin, and any freckles, spots or moles. If you note a change in any of these, or if you see a new lesion that appears to grow rapidly, DO NOT DELAY visiting a dermatologist for an evaluation.

AAHPO Medical Alerts are brought to you by AAHPO Healthcare Professionals. AAHPO's strength lies in its highly dedicated and talented professionals who are inspired to help others. Please turn to AAHPO whenever you have medical concerns and questions.


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