Everything you want to know about sunscreen

December 14, 2020

From safety and effectiveness to who should use sunscreen and how to apply it, Canadian dermatologists review the latest evidence and guidelines on use of sunscreen.

The review, published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), recommends that everyone older than six months of age should use sunscreen to protect against skin cancer
https://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.201085.

Most skin cancers develop because of long-term sun exposure. Sunscreen reduces the risk of developing skin cancer by blocking solar radiation through chemical or physical sunscreen filters such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

"Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is directly harmful and has been associated with the development of skin cancers, which are common in Canada. High-quality evidence has shown that sunscreen reduces the risk of developing both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer," writes Dr. Megan Sander, a dermatologist and clinical lecturer at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, with coauthors.

Some key points:"Sunscreen is only one part of a comprehensive photoprotection strategy. It is important to counsel patients regarding behaviours for avoiding ultraviolet radiation, including the use of wide-brimmed hats, eye protection (e.g., "wrap-around" sunglasses with ultraviolet radiation protection) and seeking shade when the ultraviolet index is above 3 (usually 11 am-3 pm, April to September in Canada)," write the authors.

Research into the safety of sunscreens and of new technologies continues.
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Canadian Medical Association Journal

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