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Sunscreens are very important during day hours. It protects the skin from harmful effects of ultraviolet rays and, also it prevents wrinkling and aging of skin. Ultraviolet rays are the reason for early wrinkling of skin, it is called photoaging. Need of sunscreen varies depending on the skin type (Fitzpatrick's skin type). There are 6 skin types:
- Skin type 1 and 2 - These skin types have very minimal melanin in their skin hence they are more prone for sun burn and eventually skin cancers called as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma.
- Skin type 3 and 4 - These skin types can burn a little on sun exposure but mostly tan.
- Skin type 5 and 6 - This skin types will always tan, very minimal chances of sunburn on exposure to sunlight. Even they need sunscreen to protect their skin from tan and photoaging.
- Skin type 3 and 6 - These skin types have relatively lower risk of skin cancer from ultraviolet rays compared to type 1 and 2.
Peak hours for maximum ultraviolet rays to reach earth is from 11 am to 4 pm. We will be exposed to maximum sunlight during this time, hence It is must to use sunscreen during this time. The key factor here is one should reapply the sunscreen every three to four hours if the exposure to sunlight is very prolonged, because the sunscreen loses its potency after four hours. Sunscreen should be used round the year irrespective of cloudy weather or rainy season because we are trying to protect our skin from ultraviolet rays and they are always there during day hours. Application on scalp is required for people who have sparse hair on the scalp, If the density of hair is thick, it is good enough to protect the skin of scalp. We usually see actinic keratosis, squamous cell carcinoma on scalp in people with sparse hair. There are many sunscreen that are transparent like clear gel. And most of the sunscreen once absorbed into the skin will not stain the clothing. There are certain sun protection clothing with ultraviolet protection factor 50+ are available. I recommend this kind of clothing for patients with known risk of skin cancer.
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