New Delhi: It's good
to apply sunscreen before you step out of home in the scorching
sun. But don't use it too frequently or in large dabs, say experts
after a recent research indicated that sunscreen use can increase
the risk of skin cancer.
"Sunscreen has its after-effects as the cream has harsh chemicals
that can affect the body if not applied properly," Bangalore-based
dermatologist Parveen Khurana told IANS.
"Zinc oxide, the must-have ingredient in sunscreens, can have
harmful effects on the body if used frequently. Most girls today
apply sunscreen every time they walk out from shade. This is a
major concern," added Khurana.
According to research carried out at Missouri University of
Science and Technology, one of the world's leading technological
research universities, some compounds found in sunscreen can
increase the rate of skin cancer if exposed to light.
"It is true that overexposure to sunlight without sunscreen can
cause sunburns, discolouration and irritation. But we should not
forget the fact that body also needs vitamin D for strengthening
of bones," said skin expert Krishna Kumar.
"So apart from skin cancer, sunscreens can also reduce vitamin D
production by as much as 97.5 to 99.9 percent. And interfering
with your body's production of vitamin D may have dire health
consequences," added Kumar.
Though many fear sun exposure, Kumar says it is important to spend
some time in the sun sans sunscreen.
"Regular sun exposure can be harmful, but one can try sporadic sun
exposure as getting into direct contact of sun also decreases the
risk of melanoma (a more deadly form of skin cancer). So safe sun
exposure, without any litmus shield like sunscreen, can help in
getting away from skin cancer as well," he added.
So use sunscreen, but in a proper way, advise doctors.
Several beauty brands have recently launched different
sunscreen-based creams with higher SPF (sun protection factor)
But according to Mumbai-based dermatologist Swati Srivastava, who
works at wellness chain VLCC, there's hardly any difference in a
sunscreen with an SPF count of 15 or 50.
"For Indian skin, any sunscreen containing SPF 15 and above is
preferred. The difference between SPF 15 and 50 is minimal.
Sunscreens with higher SPF ratings block slightly more UVB rays,
but none offers 100 percent protection," she said.
So how to pick the best sunscreen?
"For dry skin, it is always advisable to use cream-based
sunscreen. While in the case of oily skin, oil-free sunscreen
lotion is preferred. For the people who live in the tropical
areas, SPF 50 is recommended for outdoor use," said Chytra V.
Anand, cosmetologist, Kosmoderma Skin and Laser Clinic, Bangalore.
There's no right age to apply sunscreen.
"There is no particular age group to apply SPF. In fact even kids
are being recommended to use sunscreen to avoid sun damage at an
early stage. Studies have shown that 90 percent of ageing is
caused by sun damage. So sunscreen is the best anti-ageing cream.
"However, kids can use sunscreens with SPF 15-20 to avoid damage,"
(Nivedita Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)