West Houston Dermatology

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Sunscreen Misunderstood

This past summer, the media alerted consumers to new labeling standards regarding sunscreen and “sun block” products.  Despite the new labeling standards, many Houston dermatologists hold the opinion that patients misunderstand the purpose and capabilities of sunscreen in general.  Sunscreens were first developed by the US military for the prevention of sunburn related illnesses in recruits on aircraft carriers in the South Pacific.  Early products were used with some success, and formulas have improved greatly since the 1940’s.  However, West Houston Dermatology reminds patients that sunscreen was never designed to prevent sunburn.  Sunscreen only prolongs the amount of time a patient may spend in the sun before developing sunburn and related pain.  In addition, sunscreens do not prevent tanning of the skin unless the product contains a UVA rated component.  Dr. Mahoney comments that even though we’re finally got a taste of fall weather in Houston, this does not mean that it’s safe to enjoy a cool, sunny day (or even a cloudy day) without the proper protection.  The sun’s harmful rays still affect us in the fall and winter, and on cloudy days.  Though sunscreens are indeed helpful products, but they cannot do everything.  Patients also have to rely on common sense when participating in outdoor activities and in using sunscreen.  If you have questions about sunscreen usage, feel free to ask us at your next appointment.