West Houston Dermatology

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Confused About the New Sunscreen Guidelines?

In June FDA announced new labeling requirements for the makers of sunscreen products so that consumers can reduce their risk of developing skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.  The regulations become effective summer 2012, but manufacturers may begin changing product labeling now.  This is an important public health concern because the majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun.  If you were confused about what the numbers meant on sunscreen and sunblock bottles, and if you’re confused about the new requirements mean, then you’re not alone. Dr. Stephen Mahoney of West Houston Dermatology wants his patients and the public to have a  better understanding of the new requirements.  In a nutshell, the products must be marketed as “sun protection” “broad spectrum 2-14”, or “broad spectrum 15+.”  Manufacturers will no longer be permitted to label a product as sunblock.  These products will have a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of 2 – 14, but  will be required to include a warning indicating that the product has not been shown to help in the prevention of skin cancer or premature skin aging.  Broad spectrum SPF 2-14 must include the same warning.  Only broad-spectrum products with an SPF of 15 or higher are allowed to claim that when used as directed they reduce the risk of skin cancer and the risk of premature aging.  Products can no longer be called “sunblock”, and the upper limit for SPF labeling will be 50 or 50+, so you will no longer see a product called sunblock with an SPF of 75.  Additionally, sun protection products will no longer be allowed to call themselves waterproof or sweat proof, and the new labels must advise consumers how long the product is water resistant before it must be reapplied.  Skin cancer is a  serious public health problem, and it is relatively simple to prevent.  Dr. Stephen Mahoney and the staff at West Houston Dermatology want you to be educated about sun protection and to wear your sunscreen!  For more information about protecting your skin from the risk of cancer and premature aging, contact West Houston Dermatology today.