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SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (May 16, 2017) — Dermatologists offer sun protection, sunscreen selection tips
Sunscreen can be a valuable tool for skin cancer prevention — but only if it’s used correctly. When applying sunscreen, many people make mistakes that could compromise their protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, which may increase their risk of skin cancer.
Some of those mistakes are highlighted in new research published online today in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Researchers set up free sunscreen dispensers at the Minnesota State Fair and observed 2,187 people using them over the course of 93 hours.
Only one-third (33 percent) of people applied sunscreen to all exposed skin, and just 38 percent were wearing sun-protective clothing, hats or sunglasses. Additionally, utilization of the free sunscreen dispensers decreased significantly on cloudy days.
“These results highlight some of the ways people use sunscreen incorrectly,” says board-certified dermatologist Ingrid Polcari, MD, FAAD, an assistant professor in the department of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis and one of the study authors. “To get the best possible sun protection, it’s important to wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants, and to apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, not just your face and arms.”
“Everyone should apply sunscreen every time they go outside,” Dr. Polcari adds. “Even on cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can reach your skin.”
The researchers also observed that more women than men utilized the free sunscreen dispensers at the state fair; while 51 percent of the fair attendees were women, they accounted for 57 percent of the sunscreen users.
“Research has shown that women are more likely than men to use sunscreen, but it’s vital that men use it too,” says board-certified dermatologist Darrell S. Rigel, MD, FAAD, a clinical professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at New York University. “Men over 50 have a higher risk than the general population of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and UV exposure is the most preventable skin cancer risk factor, so it’s important for men of all ages to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful rays by seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and applying sunscreen.”
Dr. Rigel offers the following tips for choosing a sunscreen: The best type of sunscreen is one you’ll use,” Dr. Rigel says, “so find one you like and apply it to all exposed skin before heading outside.”
These tips are demonstrated in “What to Look for in a Sunscreen,” a video posted to the AAD website and YouTube channel. This video is part of the AAD’s Video of the Month series, which offers tips people can use to properly care for their skin, hair and nails. A new video in the series posts to the AAD website and YouTube channel each month.
For more information on skin cancer prevention and detection, visit the AAD website SpotSkinCancer.org. There, you can also find instructions on how to perform a skin self-exam, download a body mole map for tracking changes in your skin, and find free SPOTme® skin cancer screenings in your area. SPOT Skin Cancer™ is the AAD’s campaign to create a world without skin cancer through public awareness, community outreach programs and services, and advocacy that promote the prevention, detection and care of skin cancer.
Infographic: How to Select a Sunscreen
How to apply sunscreen
Prevent skin cancer
About the AAD
Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 19,000 physicians worldwide, the AAD is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology was the third most-cited dermatology journal in 2016. For more information, contact the AAD at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or aad.org. Follow the AAD on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology), Twitter (@AADskin) or YouTube (AcademyofDermatology).