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Sunscreen: Facts

For those of us who have missed out on the opportunity for preventing sun damage because we have suffered acute damage from sunburn or chronic damage from long term exposure; we can still minimise further harm and damage.

How do sunscreens work?

Sunscreens work by reducing the amount of UV radiation reaching your skin.  Sunscreens do not completely block all UV radiation, so you shouldn’t use the fact that you’re wearing sunscreen as an excuse for staying in the sun longer. Sunscreens generally work in either of two ways:

  • As physical barriers blocking or reflecting UV radiation – these sunscreens contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which scatter the UV radiation away from your skin;
  • The most common sunscreens work by chemically absorbing UV radiation and therefore preventing it from reaching your skin.   This type of sunscreen is usually non-greasy and is easily applied.  Broad spectrum sunscreens contain substances that absorb UV Radiation.

It is important to remember that some UV radiation still gets through to your skin, which is why the Cancer Council recommends a combination of sunscreen with clothing, headwear, and sunglasses.

What is the proper way to use sunscreen?

Sunscreen should be applied about 20 minutes before you go outside. If you wait until you are in the sun before you apply the sunscreen, your skin will start burning before the sunscreen has been able to bind to your skin and achieve maximum effectiveness. Waiting until you are in the sun also means that you will receive some unprotected exposure and the best advice and evidence is that sunscreen should be applied to clean, dry skin; difficult once you’re exposed to the sun!

We also recommend that you reapply the Sunscreen every two hours, more often if you are swimming, sweating or if the sunscreen may have been rubbed off your skin during work or recreational activities. Some sunscreens claim that they will last for up to four hours, however by this time; the sunscreen has usually been rubbed off. It is smart to maintain a routine of reapplying sunscreen at least every two hours. The best sunscreen to use is SPF 30+ broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen.

What is SPF?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The SPF is a rating measure that indicates the relative strength of protection the sunscreen will provide against UV radiation. Anything less than SPF 15 offers only minimal protection, we recommend the maximum of SPF30+. Some hand and face moisturisers and skin lotions now include sunscreen components with high SPF rating and should be considered for everyday use, especially for persons that work outdoors or spend a significant part of the day outdoors in work, social or recreational activities, and especially for persons with sensitive skin and otherwise for those of us seeking to prevent further sun damage to their skin.

Some important information about sunscreens!

  • Sunscreen products sold in Australia must comply with Australian Standards.  Don’t necessarily assume a higher priced sunscreen means better quality.
  • Sunscreen product may be damaged by exposure to extreme heat.  Until used, it is best to keep your sunscreen at a temperature below 25 degrees if possible.
  • Sunscreen products have a ‘use by’ date, check the tube, or container.

Sunscreen and some Precautions before and after your laser treatment

Avoid exposure to the sun and do not “sun-bathe” for at least 2 weeks before your laser treatment and for a further two weeks after treatment.  For normal outdoor activities apply an effective sunscreen of at least SPF 15, especially on exposed parts such as your face and arms.  Similarly, do not use a solarium or apply an artificial tan for at least 2 weeks before or 2 weeks after laser treatment.

Laser Hair Removal treatment is effective for some forms of skin lesion and pigmentation that arise from causes including over exposure to natural UV radiation from the sun or artificial UV from tanning beds.  Laser is also proven as a safe, effective, and commonly used treatment for the removal of unwanted hair; but you must follow some basic and sensible precautions before and after treatment.

Treatment for skin problems arising from excessive exposure to the sun

While protection from the sun remains the best prevention from sun spots and related sun-damage skin disorders, there are treatments available for those already suffering from “photo-aging”, although most brown spots are easily ignored, many are quite conspicuous and can detract from your skin’s natural beauty and your feelings of well-being and esteem.

City Laser Clinic has chosen the MedLite Q-Switch Laser for its proven effectiveness arising from the combination of high power and nanosecond pulses that deliver peak energy throughout the layers of the epidermis faster than the normal relaxation time of the tissue. The MedLite has two wavelengths in one laser, these are 532nm and 1064nm Nd: YAG.  These wavelengths add flexibility to the treatment options for the skin blemishes and lesions that the Q-Switch Laser has been engineered to remove.

The result is a safe, effective way to control the laser energy and safely achieve desired results. At City Laser Clinic, our therapists will identify your specific type of lesion and discuss the removal success rate associated with it.   The laser cannot be used for the removal of lesions that are cancerous or suspected of being cancerous.  If there is any suspicion that the lesion may be cancerous, the City Laser Clinic therapist will refer clients to their General Medical Practitioner for assessment and when in doubt will not treat until a Medical Clearance is provided.

As with all Laser therapy treatments, the frequency and number of treatments will depend on your skin type, the area affected and the size of that area.  Contact City Laser Clinic to arrange a free consultation to discuss a treatment plan that suits your needs.

Are there any Precautions to take during treatment?

As with all laser treatment, you must avoid exposure to direct sunlight before treatment, during treatment and for some weeks following treatment.  At City Laser Clinic, our experienced qualified therapists will advise you based on your skin type and the nature of the treatments that you are receiving. The Therapists at City Laser Clinic are trained, qualified and accredited in the treatment of many skin conditions and otherwise will refer you to your Medical Practitioner or recommend proprietary treatments available at your pharmacist; depending on the concern.

Please protect your skin!

For best protection, Cancer Council Australia recommends a combination of sun protection measures:

  1. Slip on some sun-protective clothing – that covers as much skin as possible;
  2. Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ sunscreen.  Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards.  Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun;
  3. Slap on a hat – that protects your face, head, neck and ears;
  4. Seek shade;
  5. Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards Extra care should be taken between 10am and 3pm when UV levels reach their peak.

See: www.cancer.org.au/cancersmartlifestyle/SunSmart/Preventingskincancer Remember to ‘slip-slop-slap’ whenever you go out in the sun – slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. Wear sunglasses too, since UV radiation can also hurt your eyes.

(02) 9232 8090