CDC survey reveals unhealthy sunscreen usage

2 years 10 months 3 weeks ago Thursday, July 02 2015 Jul 2, 2015 Thursday, July 02, 2015 10:33:00 PM CDT July 02, 2015 in News
By: Andria Kirkland, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - A 2015 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 14.3 percent of men use sunscreen as directed and about 30 percent of women use sunscreen regularly.

Summertime seems to be the universal call for everyone to enjoy the outdoors but it is also a season that is infamous for the onset of sunburn. For that very reason, dermatologists recommend that anytime you participate in an outdoor activity you should stay protected.

Liza Babington is a local outdoorswoman that loves to partake in any activity under the sun.

"I rock climb, I ride horses, hike...I like being outside so anything I can do," Babington said. While Babington said she thinks sun protection is important to being healthy, she may not be applying sunscreen as often as she should.

"In the morning I don't usually put anything on," Babington said.

Doctor Nicholas Golda is a dermatologist for the University of Missouri Health System. He sees patients everyday as a result of bad decisions or misinformation when it comes to wearing sunscreen.

"What we recommend is SPF 30 minimum applied to the exposed areas of your skin everyday and the recommendation I make with my patients is to put it next to your toothbrush," Golda said. "Generally we won't leave the house without brushing our teeth and it'll be a nice kind of cue to say 'hey, I should put my sunscreen on.'"

Health care providers suggest sunscreen should be applied everyday to any exposed areas, especially the face, nose, neck and hands - the areas most vulnerable for skin cancer.

Sunscreen prevents skin damage by two methods. Some sunscreens absorb the UV photons that damage skin cells and other sunscreen lotions bounce light off the body. Golda said sunscreens that reflect light tend to be very white in pigment. While some consumers don't like the pasty appearance it might cause, Golda said pale and healthy skin is better than tanning and risking skin damage.

"Tanning is a no-no in our book. It's kind of like saying ‘well, how much smoking is safe? Can I smoke a little bit and be okay?'," Golda said. "You shouldn't smoke at all because that's harming your lungs and when you get a tan, that's basically your skin responding to DNA damage."

Golda said the damage is being done whether a person tans indoors or outdoors. He said when it comes to skin cancer cases, the vast majority of patients are individuals that improperly exposed their skin to ultraviolet light - whether natural or artificial.

With the CDC reporting around 3.5 million skin cancer patients a year, Golda said he sees patients old and young affected by unhealthy sun habits and to remember that no one is invincible from the effects of skin damage.

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