Fact sheet on Sunscreens

sunlight and protection


Sunlight is essential for vitamin D production. However, ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight is responsible for several effects on human skin, including sunburn, photoaging, and skin cancer.

Sunscreens are topical preparations containing filters that protects against (UV) radiation. All individuals, regardless of skin type will benefit from sunscreen use. However, sunscreens are especially useful for individuals with light skin.

Broad-spectrum labeled sunscreens are preferred as they protect against both UVB and UVA radiation.

Sunscreen products with SPF 15 are generally recommended for daily use; while products with SPF 30 or higher are recommended for individuals performing outdoor work, sports, or recreational activities. Sunscreens must be applied in sufficient amount to all sun-exposed parts of the skin; 30 ml for an average adult. Sunscreens should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure. Reapplication at least every two hours and after each water exposure is necessary; even for sunscreen products labeled as “water-resistant” or “very water-resistant.”

Use of sunscreen products in infants younger than six months should be avoided. However; when adequate clothing and shade is not available; minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF can be applied to small areas, such as face and hands.

Most sunscreens are safe and are not absorbed by the body, and do not significantly affect vitamin D production by the skin. Rarely, allergic reaction and irritation can occur.

Wearing clothes is important for sun protection. The degree of protection provided by clothes is defined by ultraviolet protection factor (UPF); 25-39 and 40-50 indicate very good and excellent protection respectively.

Article Written by Dr. Abeer Khayat