A newly released study by the FDA confirmed evidence of a recent smaller pilot study that certain chemical sunscreens can be detected in the blood following topical application. The specific ingredients evaluated include UV filters that screen out the sun’s harmful rays: avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, and octinoxate. It did, however, find elevated levels of the chemicals for days and even weeks following application. It’s worth pointing out that the sunscreen products were applied to 75% of body surface area over 4 days. They were applied once on day 1 and four times during the remaining 3 days at 2-hour intervals. This study didn’t look for or find evidence of deleterious health issues. While research is needed before it can be determined if the absorption of sunscreen ingredients has any effect on a person’s health, these ingredients have been used for several decades without any reported internal side effects in humans.
So what should you do now if you want to protect yourself or your kids from the sun? Mineral based sunscreens with at least SPF 30 containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide are safe and effective. Some of the newer formulations are aesthetically pleasing leaving minimal to no white film compared to earlier versions. Sun protective clothing and UV protected sunglasses are also very helpful. Minimize sun exposure between 10 am and 2 pm especially in spring and summer when UV radiation is at its peak. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and can significantly impact quality of life. Unprotected exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays is a major risk factor for skin cancer and everyone should protect their skin by limiting exposure to the sun. If you have questions about sunscreens and sun protection measures please talk to your dermatologist.