All sunscreens are not created equal, but to know which one is best for their elderly relative, caregivers need to be able to read and understand the information on the label. Unfortunately, a study conducted in 2015 found that only about 43 percent of people who responded to a survey didn’t have a clear understanding of what SPF means. If you’re not sure how well you understand the information on sunscreen labels, learning more can ensure the one your elderly family member uses is right for them.
Below are the basic parts of a sunscreen label and what you need to know about each.
SPF stands for sun protection factor. It provides information about how much of the sun’s rays the sunscreen filters out. Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 filters out 93 percent of the sun’s rays. SPF 30 blocks 97 percent. The SPF can give caregivers some idea of how long their aging relative can stay out in the sun before a sunburn will begin. According to the skin cancer foundation, if the senior’s skin starts to get red in 20 minutes, using an SPF 30 sunscreen lets them stay outside 30 times longer. However, they also caution that those numbers are determined in a lab and not in real world situations. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours or sooner if the elderly adult has been swimming or sweating.
Waterproof or Water Resistant
If a sunscreen claims to be waterproof, don’t believe it. Sweat and water will eventually wash the sunscreen away. In fact, the FDA does not allow manufacturers to use “waterproof” on labels anymore. Instead, labels should use the terms “water resistant” and “very water resistant.” Sunscreen that is water resistant can last 40 minutes in the water before it needs to be reapplied. Very resistant sunscreen must be reapplied after 80 minutes in the water.
Caregivers should choose sunscreens that offer broad spectrum protection. That means the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Both of these kinds of rays can damage the skin and lead to skin cancer.
When reading the label of a bottle of sunscreen, caregivers may notice they use different kinds of active ingredients. There are two kinds of active ingredients used in sunscreens: physical barriers and chemical barriers. Physical barrier sunscreens are those that use zinc or zinc oxide. They are like a shield, physically blocking the rays of the sun from reaching the skin. They work well for people with sensitive skin. Chemical barrier sunscreens use oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, or octinoxate. They absorb rays from the sun before they can reach the skin. This kind of sunscreen is usually easier to rub into the skin and doesn’t leave the skin with a layer of white cream.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Elderly Care Services in Highland Park IL, contact the caring staff at Gentle Home Services. Call today (800) 860-9823.