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Practicing Safe Aesthetic Medicine

Polarised Debate on Sunblock: How Effective is IT?

Have you been told to wear sunblock to avoid skin damage, and then told to stop using it because of its potentially harmful effects? If so, you will be confused about whose opinion to go with.

This debate between people who believe sunblock is essential and those who consider it to be not so effective, or even harmful, is quite old. There are many myths and misconceptions about sunscreens that cause people to experience skin damage. So, let’s dig a little deeper and address your questions about sunscreens, as well as any problems.

Why Is Sunblock Considered Necessary?

Sunrays contain UV rays that can photoage your skin, leading to wrinkles, age spots, pigmentation etc.and can even lead to cancer.

Sunblock or sunscreen is used to stop these rays from penetrating your skin by blocking them or breaking and dissipating them, so they do not damage the skin.

What Are The Common Controversies And Myths About Sunblock?

Here are a few controversies about sunblock.

Increased Melanoma Risk

Sunscreen and sunblock are known to decrease the rate of pre-cancerous lesions like actinic keratosis. They also stop people from developing squamous cell carcinoma, a common skin cancer. However, a rise in the rates of melanoma, one of the most lethal skins cancers, has been noticed in people who use sunblock. The question people raise is, does sunblock increase the risk of melanoma?

Vitamin D Insufficiency

As sunlight is the most important source of vitamin D, a vitamin that is synthesised in our skin, some people state that using sunscreen or sunblock could lead to a vitamin D deficiency. This vitaminis important for bone health and it known to prevent melanomas. There has been a recent rise in the incidence of rickets, a disease that occurs due to a vitamin D deficiency, which is attributed to increased sunblock use.

Disruptive Organic Ingredients

Sunscreens are known to contain organic ingredients that can absorb sunrays, break them down and dissipate the energy. This is how they save your skin from photo damage. There has been recent concern that these organic elements or their products can be carcinogenic, as PABA, a commonly used ingredient in sunscreens, was found to damage DNA.

Toxic Inorganic Compounds

Sunblock may contain many inorganic compounds that block the sunrays from reaching your skin. These include titanium dioxide, a compound that is used in a very small amount. People are concerned that it may penetrate the deeper layer of skin and have a toxic effect.

About Amount And SPF

Two common myths about sunblock choice and application is that a lower SPF is ineffective and the same amount of each SPF is needed to gain protection from the sun.

Addressing The Common Controversies And Myths About Sunblock

The questions mentioned above have been debated for quite a long time. People often quit using sunblock when they come across such literature and end up facing long-term damage. This is why we answer these controversial questions below. It will help you to understand how important sunblock is and why you should stick to its use. Have a look below.

  • Is sunblock really associated with an increased risk of melanoma? There is no certain answer as there is no study that has proved this. It is not even clear if there is an association between UV rays and melanoma, but it has been proved that sunblock prevents melanocytic naevi, the pigmented spots. However, more research is needed before we can comment on this point thoroughly. But the point is, there is no positive link that has been found between sunblock use and melanoma.
  • Does sunblock cause vitamin D deficiency? Once again, there is no certain answer! Although it has been noticed that some people who use sunblock have decreased levels of vitamin D, some studies have also demonstrated there is an equal amount of vitamin D in both sunblock users and non-users. However, a vitamin D deficiency can easily be fulfilled by 10-15 minutes of sun exposure after a certain period of time.It can also be easily boosted through a fortified diet and supplements, so it is not an issue that should lead to people discontinuing sunblock, considering its many benefits.
  • Can sunblock’s organic ingredients really be disruptive? The answer is yes and no. Yes, because they can really be disruptive if they reach the systemic circulation in sufficient quantities. But also no, because only 0.1 to 5% of the dissolved filters reach the systemic circulation, which is too small to cause any harm and no cancers have been reported as a result of it.
  • Does titanium dioxide really cause toxicity? No, it doesn’t! Only a very small amount of this compound reaches the bloodstream. Other than that, it is limited to the stratum corneum, so there is no such risk.
  • The amount of sunblock required varies according to the SPF. Lower SPF sunscreens need to be applied more thickly to provide the same protection as some sunblocks with a higher SPF. So this myth about a lower SPF being ineffective is wrong. You just need to apply it properly.

So What Is The Conclusion?

The conclusion is that sunblock is not bad for your health. Instead, it is rather beneficial. The harm is only caused when an inappropriate sunblock is chosen or it is not applied in the right way. It is a bad decision to skip sunblock, based on common myths, as it can predispose you to skin cancers and various cosmetic issues.

So it is best to choose an appropriate sunblock with the help of your dermatologist, learn the proper application, and then stick to it.

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