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Sunscreen - What is it for

​Excessive exposure to sunlight causes sunburn, premature aging, wrinkling and brown pigmentation. It also increases the risk of skin cancer. In some people, sunlight may induce skin rashes or worsen an existing skin condition. Although your skin has its own natural defense mechanism, it is not enough to prevent the damage caused by ultraviolet radiation.

The so-called healthy tan is actually a response to sun damage. The skin starts to become darker and the outer layers become thicker in an effort to provide a better barrier against the sunrays. However, the harmful rays are still able to penetrate this natural barrier. Additional protection is essential to prevent damage into the deeper layers of your skin.

Sunscreens are creams, lotions, sprays or oils that protect the skin from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation of the sun by providing a chemical or physical barrier to it.

Chemical sunscreens absorb ultraviolet radiation, preventing it from reaching the deeper layers of the skin. Examples of some common active ingredients are:

  • Cinnamates
  • Drometrizole trisiloxane
  • Octocrylene
  • Oxybenzone
  • Avobenzone (butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane)
  • Octinoxate
  • Salicylates
  • Terephthalylidene dicamphor sulfonic acid

Physical sunscreens reflect and scatter light, thus preventing the ultraviolet radiation from penetrating the skin. Examples of some common active ingredients include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Sunscreen - Additional Information

  • Updated on 3/31/2021 12:00:00 AM
  • Article contributed by PSS National Medication Information Workgroup PSS National Medication Information Workgroup
The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

​If you take more than the recommended dose, please seek medical advice immediately. The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.

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