Implicated in a wide range of
conditions and illnesses, hormones also play a role in the development of acne. Androgens, male hormones that are secreted
in different amounts by both men and women, play an important role in most cases of acne. Androgens stimulate the hormone-sensitive
sebaceous glands, which produce oil, known as sebum. Sebum, in turn, has been called "the fuel that feeds the flame of
Genetics also seem to play a role. There are some families in which severe
acne is inherited. Unfortunately, the exact genetic component is not known yet.
If the acne does not respond to home and over-the-counter
treatments after two months, it is a good idea to see a dermatologist before the condition produces scarring and/or takes
an emotional toll. Dermatologists have numerous prescription medications and procedures available.
Acne is a very common skin problem that shows up as outbreaks of bumps
called pimples or zits. These usually appear on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Acne can be a source of emotional
distress, and severe cases can lead to permanent scarring.
What Causes Acne?
begins when the pores in the skin become clogged and can no longer drain sebum (an oil made by the sebaceous glands that protects
and moisturizes the skin.) The sebum build-up causes the surrounding hair follicle to swell.
Hair follicles swollen with sebum are called comedones. If the sebum stays beneath the skin, the comedones produce white bumps
called whiteheads. If the sebum reaches the surface of the skin, the comedones produce darkened bumps called blackheads. This
black discoloration is due to sebum darkening when it is exposed to air. It is not due to dirt. Both whiteheads and blackheads
may stay in the skin for a long time.
Bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) that normally
live on the top of the skin can enter the clogged pores and infect the sebum. This causes the skin to become swollen, red,
Infected sebaceous glands may burst, releasing sebum and bacteria into the surrounding skin, creating
additional inflammation. In severe cases, larger nodules and cysts may form in the deeper layers of the skin.
What Are the Different Types of Acne?
Acne can be categorized by its severity:
- Mild acne describes a few scattered comedones (whiteheads or blackheads)
with minimal inflammation (no pustules).
acne describes a denser collection of comedones as well as red, inflamed, pus-filled lesions (pustules).
- Severe acne, also called nodular or cystic acne, describes widespread
and deep lesions that are painful, inflamed, and red. This form of acne is likely to lead to scarring if left untreated.
Who Gets Acne?
can get acne, but it appears most often in teenagers, whose surging levels of androgen (a type of hormone) create larger and
more active sebaceous glands. Acne may continue for people in their twenties and thirties, and even women over forty. Acne
also appears more commonly in people whose parents had acne.
What Factors Make Acne Worse?
lesions can come and go. These factors can cause acne to flare:
- Changing hormone levels in women 2 to 7 days before their menstrual period, during pregnancy, or
when starting or stopping birth control pills
from skin products (moisturizers or cosmetics) or grease in the workplace (for example, a kitchen with fry vats)
- Pressure from sports helmets or equipment, backpacks, tight collars,
or tight uniforms
- Environmental irritants,
such as pollution and high humidity
or picking at blemishes
- Hard scrubbing
of the skin
What Are The
Treatment Options for Acne?
Almost all cases of
acne can be effectively treated. Treatment goals are to heal existing lesions, stop new lesions from forming, and prevent
Acne treatments aim to control one or more of the underlying causes of acne. For instance, topical retinoids,
such as Differin or Retin A Micro, may help unclog sebaceous glands and keep pores open. Antibiotics may be used to fight
the P. acnes bacteria. Accutane or hormonal agents, such as birth control pills, may be used to reduce sebum (oil) production.
A. Topical medications (applied to the skin)
Over the counter
- Benzoyl peroxide—This is found in many products including Clearasil and Proactiv.
It is a mild antibiotic that kills the P. acnes bacteria. It is available in different concentrations. Higher concentrations
are more likely to irritate the skin. It does not unclog blocked pores so is not as helpful for reducing whiteheads and blackheads.
- Sulfur and salicylic acid—These have some mild ability to break
down whiteheads and blackheads.
- Topical retinoids (Differin, Retin
A Micro, Tazorac, tretinoin)—These are among the most effective and commonly used acne medications. Topical retinoids
are unique in their ability to unclog swollen pores. They may be used alone for mild acne or combined with other medications
for moderate-to-severe acne. They may also be recommended for long-term use, even after the acne is under control, to keep
the skin clear.
- Topical antibiotics—Antibiotics
applied to the skin, such as clindamycin (Clindagel) and erythromycin, kill the P. acnes bacteria that leads to inflammation.
B. Oral medications (taken by mouth)
- Oral antibiotics—These medications, which include tetracycline, doxycycline
(Adoxa, Doryx), and minocycline (Dynacin, Solodyn), act systemically and can reach bacteria in the deep layers of the dermis.
They are also used for their anti-inflammatory effects.
- Oral contraceptives (Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Yaz)—For women who experience hormonally triggered acne, birth
control pills may be prescribed to reduce sebum production.
- Anti-androgen drugs—Some drugs used for other medical conditions are known to reduce androgen levels,
such as spironolactone (Aldactone). These may be used in some cases of acne.
- Isotretinoin (Accutane, Sotret)—Isotretinoin remains the most effective treatment for
severe acne or acne that does not respond to other treatments. Isotretinoin treats all causes of acne: excess sebum, clogged
pores, bacterial overgrowth, and inflammation. Most patients take the medicine for 15-to-20-week periods that may be repeated
if necessary. Treatment requires monthly office visits, monthly lab tests, and strict contraception. It is critical that women
of child-bearing age do not get pregnant while taking isotretinoin because of the serious risk of birth defects. The iPledge
program was developed to reduce the likelihood of birth defects and other side effects.
Many of these medications have side effects, such as burning, redness,
and irritation. With some medicines, such as topical retinoids, these side effects usually decrease or go away after the medicine
is used for a period of time. If side effects are severe or don't go away, tell your doctor.
persistent lesions that are inflamed or unresponsive to medications, some doctors recommend additional methods, including
extraction, light therapy, or corticosteroid injections.
How Will I Choose a Treatment Plan?
doctor will recommend a treatment based on these factors:
- Severity of your acne. Mild acne may respond well to a topical retinoid alone. Moderate acne may respond
better to a combination of topical retinoid with an antibiotic or other medication. Severe acne with scarring may need treatment
with an oral retinoid (Accutane, Sotret).
of previous treatments. Medications may be added in a step-wise fashion, only if previous treatments are found to be ineffective.
- Degree of scarring. More aggressive therapies may be started earlier
if acne scars have already started developing.
Some treatments are available only for females, such as birth control pills.
Whatever your treatment plan, it is important that you give it enough time
to work. This may mean waiting 6 to 8 weeks to see results. While the older acne lesions are healing, the medication is hard
at work keeping new lesions from forming. Staying on your medication is the most important step to getting acne under control.
How Can I Keep My Acne Under Control?
After your acne clears, your doctor may recommend that you continue therapy
with a topical retinoid to keep it under control. It is always a good idea to maintain good skin care and use skin care products
labeled as “non-comedogenic” (do not promote acne)
What About Self Care and Prevention?
ongoing self-care and prevention of acne, follow a few simple guidelines:
- Clean skin gently—Use a mild skin cleanser twice a day, and pat skin dry. Harsh cleansers
and astringents can actually worsen acne.
not pop, squeeze, or pick at acne lesions, as this can promote inflammation and infection. Keep hands away from your face
and other acne-prone parts of the skin.
sun exposure—Tanning only masks acne at best. At worst, sun exposure can lead to skin damage, especially if you are
using an acne treatment that makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight and UV rays (this includes tanning booths).
- Choose cosmetics with care—As mentioned above, choose non-greasy
skin products, and look for words like “non-comedogenic”, “oil-free”, and “water-based”.
Some facial products contain active acne-fighting ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, to help keep mild
acne at bay.
- Be patient with your treatment—Find
out how much time it should take for your acne treatment to work (generally 6-8 weeks) and then stick with it. Stopping treatment
early may prevent you from seeing good results or even cause a relapse of symptoms. Your skin may look worse before it begins
to improve. You may need to try more than one type of treatment.
Acne has nothing to do with not washing your face. However, it is best to wash your
face with a mild cleanser and warm water daily. Washing too often or too vigorously may actually make your acne worse.
Wear as little
cosmetics as possible. Oil-free, water-based moisturizers and make-up should be used. Choose products that are "non-comedogenic"
(should not cause whiteheads or blackheads) or "non-acnegenic" (should not cause acne). Remove your cosmetics every
night with mild soap or gentle cleanser and water.
flesh-tinted acne lotion containing acne medications can safely hide blemishes. Loose powder in combination with an oil-free
foundation is also good for cover-up.
of acne is an ongoing process. All acne treatments work by preventing new acne breakouts. Existing blemishes must heal on
their own, and therefore, improvement takes time. If your acne has not improved within two to three months, your treatment
may need to be changed. The treatment your dermatologist recommends will vary according to the type of acne.
Occasionally, an acne-like rash can be due to another cause
such as make-up or lotions, or from oral medication. It is important to help your dermatologist by providing an updated history
of what you are using on your skin or taking internally.
Many non-prescription acne lotions and creams help mild cases
of acne. However, many will also make your skin dry. Follow instructions carefully.
- Your dermatologist may prescribe topical creams, gels, or lotions with vitamin A acid-like drugs, benzoyl
peroxide, or antibiotics to help unblock the pores and reduce bacteria. These products may cause some drying and peeling.
Your dermatologist will advise you about correct usage and how to handle side effects.
- Before starting any medication, even topical medications, inform your doctor if you
are pregnant or nursing, or if you are trying to get pregnant.
- Acne surgery may be used by your dermatologist to remove blackheads and whiteheads. Do not pick, scratch,
pop, or squeeze pimples yourself. When the pimples are squeezed, more redness, swelling, inflammation, and scarring may result.
- Microdermabrasion may be used to remove the upper layers of the skin
improving irregularities in the surface, contour, and generating new skin.
- Light chemical peels with salicylic acid or glycolic acid help to unblock the pores, open
the blackheads and whiteheads, and stimulate new skin growth.
- Injections of corticosteroids may be used for treating large red bumps (nodules). This may
help them go away quickly.
- Antibiotics taken by mouth such as tetracycline, doxycycline,
minocycline, or erythromycin are often prescribed.
Birth Control Pills
- Birth control pills may significantly
improve acne, and may be used specifically for the treatment of acne. It is also important to know that oral antibiotics may
decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. This is uncommon, but possible, especially if you notice break-through
bleeding. As a precautionary measure use a second form of birth control.
In cases of unresponsive or severe acne, isotretinoin may be used. Patients using isotretinoin must understand the side effects
of this drug. Monitoring with frequent follow-up visits is necessary. Pregnancy must be prevented while taking the medication,
since the drug causes birth defects.
Women may also use female hormones or medications that decrease the effects of male hormones to help their acne.
- Photodynamic therapy using the
blue wavelength of light can be helpful in treating acne as well.
Your dermatologist will evaluate you and suggest the appropriate treatment regimes considering
your age, sex, and the type of acne you have.
Treatment of Acne Scarring
dermatologist can treat acne scars by a variety of methods. Skin resurfacing with laser, dermabrasion, chemical peels, or
electrosurgery can flatten depressed scars. Soft tissue elevation with collagen or fat-filling products can elevate scars.
Scar revision with a microexcision and the punch grafting technique can correct pitted scars, and combinations of these dermatologic
surgical treatments can make noticeable differences in appearance.
Proper Care is Necessary
No matter what special treatments your
dermatologist may use, remember that you must continue proper skin care. Acne is not curable, but it is controllable; proper
treatment helps you to feel and look better and may prevent scars.
To learn more about acne and acne treatments
please consult with Dr. Rothfeld at NYC Acne Treatment Center of New York, NY.
Available as creams and lotions, these vitamin A acids can help unblock
pores and reduce the skin's bacteria.
Topical antibacterials or antibiotics.
These creams and lotions can help reduce acne inflammation and skin bacteria.
Though not usually the first course of treatment, oral antibiotics
such as tetracycline are often used to help reduce the inflammation of acne.
Women who use oral contraceptives may notice that their
acne improves significantly. In fact, the FDA has approved one birth control pill specifically for acne treatment.
For severe acne that does not respond to other treatments, your dermatologist
may prescribe isotretinoin. This medication must be used with care, however, since it can cause birth defects.
It is never a good idea to remove blackheads or whiteheads (both called comedones)
or pimples on your own. A dermatologist has the proper equipment to extract them without leaving scars.
Millions of people suffer the ravages of acne scars long after adolescence has passed and the acne condition has
faded. Acne in its most severe form can leave sufferers with deep permanent scars. Acne typically results in two types of
scars - "icepick," or pitting scars, and "depressed," crater-like scars.
Thanks to the refinement of a number of dermatologic surgical techniques, acne scars can be treated
with a variety of safe, effective procedures that improve the appearance of a patient's skin and boost the patient's self-esteem.
Dr. Rothfeld, a dermatologic surgeon will choose the technique or combination of treatment approaches based upon the nature
of the scarring. The following are common techniques and procedures used to improve acne scarring:
Dermabrasion The dermatologic surgeon freezes the patient's skin or uses tumescent anesthesia
and then removes or "abrades" the skin with a rotary instrument. The skin undergoes a "remodeling" process
as it heals, resulting in a smoother and fresher appearance.
and Punch Replacement Graft A depressed acne scar is surgically removed, and a patch
of skin from elsewhere on the patient's body.
Soft Tissue Fillers Bovine
collagen, collagen-related fillers, polymer implants or a patient's own fat (taken from another part of the body) is injected
in small quantities below the surface of the skin to elevate depressed scars.
By delivering short pulses of the laser beam, the dermatologic surgeon can smooth, sculpt and normalize the appearance
of acne scars. The ultrapulsed carbon dioxide laser, the erbium YAG laser and the pulsed dye yellow light laser are most commonly
used for treating acne scarring.
Chemical Peeling By applying a chemical
solution to the skin, mild scarring and certain types of acne may be treated. The procedure enables new, regenerated skin
to appear, improving the appearance of the condition. Chemical Chemical peels have been a mainstay of Dermatology for decades.
Chemical peels work by ungluing the top layer of damaged skin and discolored skin so it can peel away and reveal the fresh
new skin beneath. Come into Dr. Rothfelds' office to discuss the different type of chemical peels that would
be appropriate for you.
Chemical peeling uses a chemical solution to improve the skin's appearance.
It can reduce or eliminate fine lines under the eyes and around the mouth, correct uneven skin pigmentation, remove precancerous
skin growths, and soften acne or treat scars caused by acne. The procedure can also treat wrinkles caused by sun damage and
scarring, as well as skin blemishes common with age and heredity. Chemical peels can be performed on the face, neck, chest,
hands, arms, and legs.
Possible complications associated with chemical peels may include but
are not limited to the following:
- change in skin tone color
skin types, there is a risk of developing a temporary or permanent skin color change. Taking birth control pills, being pregnant,
or having a family history of brownish discoloration on the face may increase the possibility of developing the abnormal pigmentation.
Chemical peels can cause scarring. However, if scarring occurs, it can usually be treated effectively.
sores and fever blisters
Those who are susceptible to cold sores, or herpes
simplex infections, may have a reactivation of cold sores or fever blisters following a chemical peel.
A chemical peel is most commonly performed for cosmetic reasons to enhance appearance and self-confidence and may
be performed in conjunction with a facelift. However, a chemical peel is not a substitute for a facelift and does not prevent
or slow the aging process.
Phenol, trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) are used for chemical peels. The
precise formula used may be adjusted for each patient.
- alphahydroxy acids (AHAs)
Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic, lactic, or fruit acids are the mildest of the peel formulas and produce light
peels that can often provide smoother, brighter-looking skin. AHA peels may be used to accomplish the following:
AHA peels may cause the following:
- reduce fine wrinkling
- treat areas of dryness
- reduce uneven pigmentation
- aid in control of acne
- smooth rough,
- improve texture of sun-damaged skin
- crusting, flaking, or scaling
Generally, no anesthesia is needed for AHA peels since they cause only a slight stinging sensation
Protecting skin from the sun is important
following AHA peels.
- trichloracetic acid (TCA)
acid (TCA) can be used in many concentrations and is used to accomplish the following:
fine surface wrinkles
- remove superficial blemishes
- correct pigment problems
TCA can be used on the neck or other body areas, and may require
pretreatment with Retin-A or AHA creams. This procedure is preferable for darker-skinned patients.
Anesthesia is not
usually required for TCA peels because the chemical solution acts as an anesthetic. Although, sedation may be used before
and during the procedure to help the patient relax. Two or more TCA peels may be needed over several months to obtain the
desired result, although mild TCA peels may be repeated more frequently.
The results of a TCA peel are usually less
dramatic than and not as long-lasting as those of a phenol peel. More than one TCA peel may be needed to achieve the desired
TCA-peel patients are advised to avoid sun exposure for several months. The procedure also may produce some
unintended color changes in the skin.
is the strongest of the chemical solutions and produces a deep peel. A phenol peel is mainly used to accomplish the following:
- correct blotches caused by sun exposure, birth control pills, or aging
out coarse wrinkles
- remove precancerous growths
- should be used on the face only, as scarring may result if used on the neck or other
- is not recommended for darker-skinned individuals.
- may pose
risk for patients with heart problems.
- may permanently remove facial
- may cause permanent skin lightening.
- may leave lines of demarcation.
Recovery may be slow and complete healing may take several months.
After a phenol peel, new skin may lose its ability to produce pigment. The skin will be lighter and will always have
to be protected from the sun.
About the procedure:
The procedure involves a chemical solution that is applied to the skin. The solution causes a layer
of skin to separate and peel off. The new, regenerated skin underneath is usually smoother, less wrinkled, and more even in
color than the old skin
Our goal at NYC Dermatology is to be the Tiffanys of Skin
Care. I personally see every new patient who visits our office. I am not just
a physician, I am a Board Certified Dermatologist
. My goal is, quite simply, to
provide the type of dermatologic care which I would seek for my own family. This is a very important point, since physicans often use the phrase "Doctor's Doctor" to refer to those individuals who typically are selected by physicians themselves
for personal care. I am confident that my practice fully meets that definition. This is the type of 5-star care
and service that our patients expect, deserve and receive. I treat every patient the way I would want to be treated: with
courtesy, dignity and respect. I carefully listen to their skin-care concerns and offer a variety of options including a treatment
plan that I believe will give them the best results and the best dermatologist. We also support our patients with a very fine
medical staff . Please take a moment to explore our top of the line winning website. My philosophy is simple…Experience
Counts and Quality Matters. Please allow me to solve your skin problems. After all,
at NYC Dermatology , our philosophy is if you look great you will feel great with gorgeous skin.”
Rothfeld possesses the special knowledge, skills and professional capability that distinguishes him as an outstanding Dermatologist in
NYC , Manhattan , New York at NYC Dermatology by Board Certified Dermatologist. Top New York City Dermatologist,
Dr. Rothfeld in Manhattan treats the most difficult cases until the problem clears. Dr. Rothfeld, a Board
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NYC Dermatology is
under the medical supervision of Dr. Gary Rothfeld, a Board Certified Dermatologist.
To enhance every aspect of
your skin care, Dr. Rothfeld has personally created a superb line of cosmetic procedures..
Dermatology by Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Gary Rothfeld is a board certified NYC Dermatologist
with a New York City office in Manhattan, New York providing expert skin care, dermatology, and
cosmetic dermatology services.
A board certified dermatologist in NYC specializing
in dermatology and dermatologic surgery including state-of-the-art cosmetic surgical procedures, Dr. Gary Rothfeld is
known for his attention to body symmetry and his dedication to meeting patients’ personal goals. His specialties include
full body liposuction using the tumescent technique, facial fat transplantation, Botulinum injection into facial lines and
laser resurfacing. NYC dermatology specializes in chemical peels, vein injections, laser, restylane, Perlane,
Botox injections, JUvederm, non-surgical facelifts, collagen implantation and treatment of skin cancer.
As an expert in the field of dermatology and cosmetic dermatologic surgery,
Dr. Rothfeld is has appeared on national television shows. Dr. Rothfeld has also been quoted in many high profile
Our goal at the manhattan office of Board Certified Derrmatologist , Dr. Gary
Rothfeld is to create an atmosphere of professionalism, trust and complete patient satisfaction at the NYC Dermatology
and Cosmetic Surgery Center in Manhattan, New York. Dr. Rothfeld, Dermatology Director of NYC Dermatolgy is a Board
Certified Dermatologist at NYC Dermatology who has treated many patients in the entertainment industry. Schedule an appointment at our office
which provides top of the line expert skin care, dermatology, cosmetic dermatology services, and advanced
dermatology laser treatments for cosmetic needs and medical skin conditions. We offer a full range of services including surgery
for skin cancer, laser hair removal, Botox®, the Fractionated Resurfacing laser, Titan laser, and acne photodynamic treatments.
Our main goal is to provide you with the most effective and advanced treatment. Join the NYC Laser Center NYC Dermatology Mailing
List Our periodic newsletters include exclusive offers, educational articles, as well as free treatment & product drawings!
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org in our Media office and including different offers and many
more. We offer a variety of services from Botox® to Liposuction . Please contact us with any questions you may have or
schedule an appointment online or by phone for a consultation. Beauty Is Forever! and Dr. Rothfeld
at NYC Dermatologist has over 20 years of experience with his beauty tips.
During your office consultation and examination you will be provided
with a detailed plan of the treatments that will benefit you most. NYC Laser Center NYC Dermatology top laser dermatology
center offering skin care, dermatolgy,cosmetic dermatology services, and laser treatments for sun damaged skin, acne,
acne scars, rosacea, pigmentation, laser hair removal, broken blood vessels, as well as superficial
and deep wrinkles. We offer patients in Manhattan, services including general dermatology, wrinkle fillers such as Restylane®,
Captique, Perlane,Cosmoderm and Cosmoplast, Radiance® (radiesse)
and Sculptra. We also offer Botox®, Cosmelan, Velasmooth, Fotofacial, Titan laser, Refirme, and
the Fractionated Resurfacing laser. in the treatment of acne, rosacea, skin cancer and surgery. Dr. Rothfeld has
taught numerous other physicians on the proper use of Botox®, medical hair transplants, and lasers in the
country. Acne Photodynamic Treatment - Botox® - Botox® for Hyperhidrosis -
Cellulite - Cool Laser - Cosmelan Depigmentation Treatment - Glycolic Acid Peel - Fat Transfer - Fotofacial / IPL Fractionated
Resurfacing Laser - Hair Loss - Laser Hair Removal - Liposuction - - Surgery - Minimal Scar Technique - Photodynamic
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Manhattan , Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens locations through our Manhattan office in NYC
Ultraviolet radiation is the major
cause of skin cancer, including melanoma. It is important for everyone to be aware of its damaging effects and take measures
to avoid overexposure.
Although many people enjoy the appearance of tanned skin and think it looks "healthy,"
tanned skin is damaged skin. The ultraviolet radiation in sunlight penetrates the deepest layers of the skin where it harms
the cells. The body responds by making more pigment (melanin) to try to protect itself, but the damage has already happened
and may be permanent. The more exposure you have to the sun, the more likely you are to develop skin problems later in life.
The damaging part of sunlight is called ultraviolet radiation, or UV rays. It is categorized into three types:
rays (wavelengths = 200 nm to 290 nm) are the shortest and most powerful of the UV rays. UVC is the most likely
to cause cancer if it reaches skin. Fortunately, most of it is absorbed by the ozone layer in our atmosphere. However, there
is concern that a thinning of the ozone layer may be causing more UVC to reach the earth's surface.
- UVB rays (wavelengths
= 290 nm to 320 nm) are less damaging than UVC, but more of it penetrates to the earth's surface. It is the most common cause
of sunburn and skin cancer. UVB is particularly strong at the equator, at high elevations, and during the summer.
rays (wavelengths = 320 nm to 400 nm) are the least powerful of the UV rays, but they are present all year and
can penetrate windows and clouds.
The first and more effective way to avoid sun damage
is to stay out of tthe sun as much as possible.
If you cannot avoid being exposed to sunlight, there are five basic
defenses that you should keep in mind when you go outdoors:
- Avoid peak hours of sunlight
Peak Hours of Sunlight (UV Index)
In general, UV rays are the greatest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. It is best to avoid
the outdoors during these hours without protection, particularly during summer, in tropical regions, or at altitude. During
this time, you should pay close attention to the appropriate use of sunscreen, clothing, sunglasses, and shade.
can obtain an accurate measure of the amount of UV rays in your area by looking up the Ultraviolet (UV) Index. The
UV Index is like a weather forecast. It provides a report on the amount of damaging UV rays that are expected to affect a
region on a particular day. The UV Index changes day to day according to time of year, cloud cover, atmospheric ozone, and
The following table is a breakdown of the UV Index. A high UV Index number means that you are at greater
risk of being exposed to ultraviolet radiation. You should take special care to avoid outdoor exposure to sunlight when the
UV Index is moderate or greater.
- 0 to 2 = Minimal
- 3 to 4 = Low
- 5 to 6 = Moderate
- 7 to 9
- 10 or more = Very high
The UV Index can be found on our Website or in local papers, usually in
the weather section.
There are several factors to consider when selecting the right sunscreen. (See
the Sunscreens handout for more information.)
Sun protection actor (SPF) - Sunscreens are rated
by the amount of protection they provide from UVB, measured as the "sun protection factor" or SPF. Sunscreens with
higher SPF provide greater protection from the sun. It is best to use sunscreens that offer a minimum SPF of 15.
sunscreens - It is best to use a sunscreen that can protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. These are called
Most of the original sunscreens blocked only UVB, but increased awareness
of the damage caused by UVA has lead to the development of ingredients that protect against UVA too. Broad-spectrum sunscreens
combine ingredients to provide a product with greater protection.
Common sunscreen ingredients that provide protection
from UVB rays:
- PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid)
- Padimate O and Padimate
A (Octyl Dimethyl PABA)
Common sunscreen ingredients that provide protection from UVA
- Avobenzone (Parsol 1789)
- Benzophenones (oxybenzone, dioxybenzone, sulisobenzone)
"Physical" sunscreen ingredients lie on top of the skin and work by reflecting or scattering UV radiation. They
are particularly useful for people who are sensitive to the ingredients found in other sunscreens. Sunblocks often contain
one or more of these ingredients:
- Zinc oxide
- Titanium dioxide
- Iron oxide
formulations were unsightly (often leaving a white film on the skin), newer "microfine" formulations are invisible
after being applied. Microfine titanium dioxide is effective at protecting from both UVA and UVB rays.
resistance - Sunscreens are classified as "water-resistant" if they maintain their protection after
two 20-minute immersions in water. They are classified as "waterproof" if they maintain their protection after four
20-minute immersions. You should seek a water-resistant or waterproof sunscreen if you will be participating in water sports,
such as swimming or water skiing, or will be actively sweating.
However, independent testing has shown many products
do not perform well in the real world. So it remains a good idea to apply sunscreen every time you leave the water, or frequently
if you are actively sweating.
Using a Sunscreen
Sunscreen should be applied evenly and liberally on all sun-exposed
skin within 30 minutes before going outside to give sunscreen time to take effect. (Sunblocks are effective immediately after
being applied.) Sunscreens should be reapplied every two hours or following swimming or sweating. Apply sunscreen generously
and reapply frequently at least every two hours.
The chemicals may lose effectiveness over time, so it is important
to throw away sunscreen that is past its expiration date or is over two years old.
No sunscreen is 100% effective;
take additional measures to avoid the damaging effects of the sun's rays.
Clothing can provide excellent
protection from the sun. However, not all clothing is protective. A thin, wet, white t-shirt will provide almost no protection
from UV rays. When selecting clothes for sun protection, consider the following:
- Cover your head, shoulders, arms,
legs, and feet.
- Use a hat that is broad-brimmed (brim should be at least four inches wide).
- Wear fabrics that
are thicker or with a tight weave; these allow less sunlight to penetrate the skin.
- Wear darker-colored clothes that
absorb more UV rays.
- Wear clothing made from nylon or Dacron because it is more protective than cotton.
remaining in wet clothes because wet fabric may allow more UV rays to penetrate the skin.
- Wash clothing with chemical
absorbers to increase their protectiveness.
- Some clothing comes with a UPF rating that stands for "Ultraviolet
Protection Factor." This measures the ability of the fabric to block UV radiation from penetrating to the skin. A fabric
with a UPF 15 allows only 1/15th (6.66%) of the UV radiation to penetrate your skin as compared to uncovered skin.
fall into 3 categories:
- Good protection: UPF = 15 to 24
- Very good protection: UPF = 25 to 39
protection: UPF = 40 to 50+
Choose clothing with a UPF rating of at least 15. Keep in mind that the UPF of a garment
will decrease over time as the fabric wears.
Overexposure to sunlight can cause cataracts and macular
degeneration, a major cause of blindness. Sunglasses can provide protection. However, not all sunglasses are of value. A darker
lens itself does not guarantee protection. Look at the label to ensure that the glasses provide UV protection. Sunglasses
should be large enough to shield your eyes from many angles. Look for sunglasses that are described as blocking 99% or 100%
of UVA and UVB. The glasses may also be described as providing UV absorption up to 400 nm.
remain in the shade when outdoors. Keep in mind that shade does not provide full protection from the sun because UV rays can
bounce off reflective surfaces, such as sand, snow, water, concrete, or even porch decks. In addition, some fabrics used as
shade devices, such as parasols or umbrellas, may not provide sufficient protection. If you seek shade under a cloth, look
for a fabric that is thick, tightly woven, and dark-colored.
Clear window glass provides protection from UVC and UVB,
but not UVA rays. If you are frequently exposed to sunlight while driving, the plastic interleaf of your windshield (which
prevents it from shattering) can help block the light, but side windows have no such protection. Non-drivers can make use
of additional window shade devices. Drivers in some states may be able to use darkly-tinted glass in the side windows, but
this is illegal in some states.
- Avoid the sun when its UV rays are strongest,
between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or greater. Apply it 30 minutes prior to being
exposed to the sun and reapply every two hours. Consider using a water-resistant sunscreen if you will be active (sweating)
or in the water.
- Use a sunblock on your lips.
- Wear a broad-brimmed hat when outdoors.
- Wear sunglasses.
tightly woven, dark clothing to cover your arms, legs, and feet.
- Stay in the shade when possible.
- Avoid reflective
surfaces, such as water or snow.
- Avoid sunbathing.
- Don't be fooled by cloudy days since damaging rays can