Should You Screen or Block the Sun's Harmful Rays?

July 23,2019

Chances are good, that if you live in Florida, your skin needs protection from sun's damaging ultraviolet light. Although there is no "single" answer to how much sun is too much, the time of day that you are exposed and your natural skin complexion are important variables to consider. Moreover, when UV radiation levels are high, your skin can burn within minutes, so anytime you spend time outdoors in the Sunshine State make sure you're protected. It is important to pay special attention to sensitive areas of skin like your nose, ears, cheeks, neck, toes and feet.

In Florida, the sun can be brutal even on an overcast or cloudy day. This is why our state often has among the highest rates of skin cancer in the nation, including deadly cases of melanoma. The sad truth about the most dangerous and life-threatening form of skin cancer is that 90% of melanoma cases are believed to be preventable. It is crucial that you understand that any skin type can develop skin cancer, including those who tan easily and those with a naturally dark complexion. Moreover, always apply a shot-glassful of sun protection about fifteen minutes before each exposure.

Sunscreen versus Sunblock

A major difference exists between sunscreen and sun block products in how they protect your skin against harmful UV rays. Sunscreens are a chemical product that soaks into the skin to absorb UVA rays from the sun. Sunblocks, on the other hand, are so named because the solution actually blocks the sun's harmful rays. Known as sunblockers, these mineral based products sit on top of the skin and provide the same effective protection from the sun's rays by deflecting radiant energy rather than absorbing it. Some dermatologist believe sunblockers are more effective than sunscreens in protecting from both UVA and UVB rays.

Last year, Hawaii became the first state to implement a ban on the sale and distribution of over-the-counter sunscreens containing harsh chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoate. Both are chemical agents that are proven to be harmful to coral larvae and other important aquatic sea life. State officials believe the millions of dollars of lost revenues will motivate companies that produce sun protection lotions to develop safer products. Although many sun seekers may prefer products that are absorbed directly into the skin, physical particles like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that are used in sun blockers are better at deflecting UV radiation away from the skin.

Keep Your Skin Well Protected and Seek Shade

So, what should you do if you forget and have too much fun in the sun? For serious burns with blistered red skin, you should seek urgent care. For someone with no blisters but a reddish discomfort that stings or itches, you can visit the Skin Cancer Foundation webpage for tips on how to treat a sunburn. Remember, UV dosages of either UVA or UVB light are naturally higher as you approach the equator (like in Florida) and lower as you approach the poles. Take the recommended first step and keep your skin out of the sun by seeking shade especially during the middle of the day.