Sunscreen for the Harmful Effects of UVA and UVB Rays

(Protector Solar contra los dañinos rayos ultravioleta UVA y UVB)

As a Miami Cosmetic Dermatologist, I see many patients who enjoy the benefits of our year-round favorable climate.  However, as a result of the appealing draw of the sun and sea, Floridians must take extra precautions to avoid the irreversible effects of sun damage to their skin. 

In working with my patients, I continually stress the most important preventive measure for sunlovers is the use of adequate sun screen products.

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Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays penetrate the earth’s atmosphere and play an important, destructive role in creating adverse medical conditions such as premature skin aging, eye damage (including cataracts) and skin cancer.

UV rays account for the highest levels of UV radiation reaching the earth’s surface, and they are present with relatively equal intensity throughout the year – even penetrating cloud layers and glass.  UVA is the dominant tanning ray, but it is also the primary cause of cumulative skin damage that occurs over time. In fact, tanning is a protective response to UVA – the skin darkens in an imperfect attempt to prevent DNA damage caused by over-exposure to UVA.  The long-term effects of UVA exposure are most commonly seen as skin aging and wrinkling, and skin cancer.

UVB rays are the chief cause of damage to the skin’s more superficial epidermal layers, causing skin reddening, sunburn and skin cancer.   The intensity of these rays varies by season, location and time of day; the most significant amount of UVB hits the U.S. between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. from April to October, and it is especially intense in South Florida.

Both UVA and UVB are harmful to your skin.  In order to achieve maximal sun protection, both of these rays must be blocked.  To make sure you’re getting adequate protection from these rays, look for a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15. “SPF” only rates UVB protection, so keep in mind that a high SPF may not provide you with protection against other damaging effects such as darkening and enlarging brown spots, age spots, broken capillaries and sagging skin- all the result of UVA rays.

In order to achieve effective protection against UVA rays,  look for  sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide; in addition, also look for particular active ingredients such as Tinosorb M, Tinosorb S, Helioplex and Mexoryl.

The sun screen products I currently recommend for my patients are La Roche Anthelios Ultra Light or Fluide Suncreen (contains Mexoryl) and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer (contains Helioplex).  All three of these products contain adequate protection against UVA and UVB.

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