Choose the right kind of sunscreen

2015-12-23 06:00
Make sure you apply sunscreen generously. Photo: sourced

Make sure you apply sunscreen generously. Photo: sourced

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Use your sunscreen properly to protect your skin and eyesight this summer.

'Since the skin around the eyes is the thinnest skin on our body, it is a very common area for non-melanoma skin cancers induced by the sun, like basal cell carcinomas,' says Inge Loubser, optometrist and junior partner atMellins i-Style. It is therefore necessary to regularly apply sunscreen on this area when outside.

How do different types of sunscreen affect the area around the eyes?

Many sunscreens contain an ingredient called avobenzone, a UVA blocker found in certain ‘chemical’ sunscreens to absorb radiation. The skin easily absorbs the sunscreen without leaving a greasy film behind. ‘Waterproof’ sunscreens can cause burning if the skin is sensitive to avobenzone.

Another type of sunscreen which physically ‘sits’ on the surface of the skin or face, contains the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that reflect light off the skin.

Perfume-free sunscreen sticks or lip balm formulated with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide active ingredients are recommended for use around the eyes. This type of sunscreen doesn’t smear or run easily and will less likely reach the eyes.

Although sunscreen will not lead to permanent eye damage, it can leave a chemical burn on the surface of the eye which can be painful, even if only for a few days.

Here are a few tips to help reduce the discomfort of sunscreen in your eyes:

1. If you wear contact lenses, it is a good idea to remove them and wait at least 48 hours before wearing them again.
2. Rinse your eyes out with artificial tears if you have these on hand, otherwise water will work.
3. If the irritation persists contact a medical practitioner.

Follow these tips to avoid getting sunscreen in your eyes:

1. Never spray sunscreen directly onto your face. First spray or squirt the sunscreen into your hand and then apply, making sure to avoid the sensitive areas around the eyes.

2. Look for sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These stick to the skin better than other sunscreens containing chemicals such as octyl methoxycinnamate. The sunscreen will also not get into the eyes as easily and, because it is free of chemicals and perfume, it will not burn the eyes.

3. Avoid applying sunscreen around your eyes. Instead, wear sunglasses that block 100% UV rays and wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your eyes from the sun.

Having a Zeiss Experience eye examination in summer and during the festive season at one of the Mellins-Zeiss Vision Centres countrywide, is a great health check.

- Women24

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