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SDPA Fall 2016 Live Blog

SDPA Fall | Live Blog | UV Protection: Debunking Myths on SPF and UPF Clothing

Dr. Lisa Chipps, MD gave a comprehensive lecture on the history and current state of sunscreen products in the US, as well as the proper application of sunscreen, sunproof clothing and sun safe behaviors at this morning’s session of the SDPA 14th Annual Fall Conference.

Dr. Chipps stressed that one in five Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer in US. UVA radiation contributes to aging, wrinkles, thin skin, sun spots, telangiectasias and skin cancer. UVB radiation contributes to sunburns and skin cancer. New guidelines approved by the FDA in 2011 requires that sunscreens in the US can no longer be labeled as waterproof, sweatproof or as “sunblock”. New guidelines for sunscreen products allow a product to be labeled as broad spectrum if these products contain both UVA and UVB protection. Additionally, if a sunscreen has an SPF of ≥ 15, the labeling can read that these sunscreens reduce the risk of aging and cancer. Furthermore, a product can be considered “water resistant” if it stays in place for 40-80 minutes.

The two main types of sunscreens are physical blockers (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) which sit on the surface of keratinocytes and reflect light away and chemical blockers which interact with keratinocytes and reflect light away.

Dr. Chipps also touched on the myths regarding sunscreen ingredients in the US. The studies picked up by main stream media in regards to concerns over sunscreens have involved animal, specifically rat and mouse studies. Analysis of these studies conclude that chemical sunscreens do not cause cancer, are not hormone disruptors, and retinyl A has not been found to be photocarcinogenic in humans.

Lastly, Dr. Chipps discussed ultraviolet clothing products. A shirt with a UPF rating of 50 allows 1/50th of the sun’s rays through. If you compare this to a white t-shirt of an SPF of 3, the benefit is clear. A good take away from the lecture: “advise your patients who get gel manicures (which are cured by UV lights) to apply a high SPF sunscreen to their hands prior to putting their hands under the light.”


Byline: Sarah Patton, PA-C, MSHS

Posted: November 3, 2016

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