Sunscreen Scrutiny—Why Natural Makes Sense
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States with approximately 9,500 Americans diagnosed every day. It’s estimated that one in five people in the United States will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. The more serious and less common form of skin cancer is melanoma. It’s estimated that about 90 percent of all skin cancers are related to sun exposure.
There is no question that one of the best ways to reduce risk of developing skin cancer is by using an effective comprehensive plan to protect the skin from the sun. And this includes sunscreen. Research clearly indicates that using sunscreen can help protect skin from UV damage caused by sun exposure. The key is to recommend the right sunscreen.
One ingredient getting a lot of attention is zinc oxide nanoparticles. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, zinc oxide in sunscreens have a long history of use and is considered one of “the most protective broad-spectrum ingredients.” Zinc oxide is a typically a large particle. When used as a large particle in sunscreens the result was a thick white paste that caused the skin to look chalky. By micronizing the zinc oxide into nanoparticles, the opacity is reduced and the skin has a much more natural appearance.
There has been concern that the zinc oxide nanoparticles can be absorbed by the skin and cause harm. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “Sunscreen is applied to the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin, which is made up of dead cells, and multiple studies have shown that nanoparticles do not penetrate living skin.”
Zinc oxide can be combined with titanium oxide. For even more synergistic natural protection, antioxidant botanicals like green tea and other nutrients can be added to sunscreen formulations. Nourishing shea and coco butters, as well as aloe vera can be added to further enhance the health of the skin.
Whether you choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide or not, it’s critically important to have patients avoid sunscreens that contain harmful chemicals like oxybenzone, octisalate, homosalate, PABA, parabens, phthalates and others.
It is widely known that the skin is the largest organ of the human body. It deserves protection and the best protection when it comes to sunscreen should be all-natural.
Potential Drug Interactions to be Aware of
Certain medications can cause patients to be more sensitive to the sun, which may require more diligent sun protection. These medications can include:
- Antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, tetracycline and doxycycline
- Antidepressants such as tricyclics, as well as the herb St John’s wort
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Cholesterol drugs
- Chemotherapy drugs such as methotrexate, flutamide, 5-FU, gemcitabine and doxorubicin
- High blood pressure medications
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen and celecoxib
American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/media/stats/conditions/skin-cancer. Accessed July 2018.
Green AC, Williams GM, Logan V. J Clin Oncol. 2011;29(3):257-63.
Pleasance ED, Cheetham RK, Stephens PJ, et al. Nature. 2009;463:191-196.
Skin Cancer Foundation. https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/sunscreen/sunscreens-safe-and-effective. Accessed July 2018.