Sunscreen is a type of topical product designed to ‘protect’ the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It typically contains a combination of chemicals that absorb, scatter, or reflect UV radiation to prevent it from penetrating the skin.
There are some dangers associated with the use of sunscreen. Here are six of the top dangers of using sunscreens:
- Chemical absorption: Many sunscreens contain chemicals that are absorbed into the skin, which can have a number of potential health risks. Some of the chemicals commonly found in sunscreen, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, have been linked to hormone disruption and other health problems. Also, retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A that is sometimes added to sunscreen, and some studies have suggested that it may break down into compounds that could increase the risk of skin cancer.
- Allergic reactions: Some people may have an allergic reaction to the chemicals in sunscreen, which can cause skin irritation, redness, and itching. This can be particularly problematic for people with sensitive skin or those who are prone to allergies.
- Environmental impact: The chemicals in sunscreen can also have a negative impact on the environment. When sunscreen is washed off in the ocean, it can contribute to coral bleaching and other environmental problems.
- False sense of security: Using sunscreen can sometimes create a false sense of security (particularly lighter skinned individuals) that can lead people to spend more time in the sun than they should. This can increase the risk of sunburn and skin damage.
- Vitamin D deficiency: Sunscreens can also prevent the skin from producing vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that plays a key role in bone health, immune function, and other vital processes. Prolonged use of sunscreen may lead to vitamin D deficiency, especially in people who live in areas with limited sun exposure or those who spend most of their time indoors.
- Skin irritation: Some sunscreens may cause skin irritation, especially in people with sensitive skin. This can result in redness, itching, and other uncomfortable symptoms that may require medical treatment. In some cases, repeated use of sunscreen can lead to chronic skin irritation, which may require the use of alternative products or medical intervention.
To minimize the risks associated with sunscreen use, it’s important to remember that sunscreen is just one strategy, and that it’s still important to seek shade, wear protective clothing, and avoid prolonged periods of sun exposure, especially during peak hours.
Wired. Sunscreen Chemicals Soak All the Way Into Your Bloodstream. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/sunscreen-chemicals-soak-all-the-way-into-your-bloodstream/
How Does Sunscreen Harm Coral Reefs? Retrieved from https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/news/sunscreen-corals.html
U.S. National Park Service. (n.d.). Sunscreens and Coral Reefs. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/subjects/oceans/sunscreen-coral.htm
FDA advances new proposed regulation to make sure that sunscreens are safe and effective. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-advances-new-proposed-regulation-make-sure-sunscreens-are-safe-and-effective
American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). Sunscreen FAQs. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs
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