Sunscreen and Skin Type
- Posted on: May 15 2017
One of the basic aspects of dermatologic care is educating patients regarding sun protection. Discernment is crucial for the physician who is committed to the highest quality of care, and this can mean spending a lot of time educating ourselves about sunscreen use.
In many cases, we rely on the fundamentals such as “use a broad-spectrum sunscreen product.” The more we learn about the uniqueness of each person’s skin, the more we see that we may need to go above and beyond. How? By recognizing that skin type may have something to do with the effectiveness of a sun protection program.
Patients whose skin is reactive are better suited to gentle ingredients. Fragrance and preservatives, as well as ingredients such as oxybenzone and PABA, may irritate or clog the pores. Patients who encounter frequent breakouts need to be guided away from sunscreens with a greasy consistency. It is possible for acne-prone patients to find sunscreen products that are formulated for their unique type of sensitive skin. Many lotions for acne patients contain drying ingredients such as alcohol and are made to be lightweight and non-greasy.
Like the person with acne-prone skin, anyone with skin sensitivities may experience irritation if oxybenzone or PABA is applied before UV exposure. Highly sensitive patients may gain the most from physical sunscreens that block UV absorption, such as those that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
We never reach an age at which sun protection loses its value. Mature skin needs broad-spectrum protection just as much as younger skin. Although we tend to recommend lotions whenever possible, some older patients may be better served by a sunscreen spray, which allows them to cover more areas, even those they cannot easily reach. According to research, people who use sunscreen on a daily basis look younger as they age, thanks to the prevention of hyperpigmentation. The value of sunscreen for mature skin, then, lies in usage more than any particular ingredient.
Dry skin can become flaky and uncomfortable if not properly managed. This extends the use of sunscreen. Patients with dry skin should be steered toward moisturizing products that have a thicker consistency.
As we discussed in our previous blogs about sunscreen use, skin type does not dictate the extent of SPF that is needed to avoid UV damage. Proper application is more relevant and can be assisted when patients can find products that meet their unique needs.
The American Society for Mohs Surgery aims to foster patient advocacy and customized care for skin cancer cases. Learn more about our organization at (800) 616-2767.