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Sunscreens coming under FDA scrutiny

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 5:43 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Sunscreens come in lotions and sprays. They are designed to protect the skin from the harmful rays of the sun. But what many people don’t know is that there are two kinds of sunscreens.

One is physical, one is chemical.

“Chemical gets absorbed into the skin, and they actually absorb the energy from the UV light,” says Dr. Cindy Lamerson with the Nevada Center for Dermatology. “They dissipate that energy. That UV energy binds to them,” she says.

And it is the chemical sunscreens which are now coming under scrutiny of the Food and Drug Administration. Specifically their labeling.

Dr. Lamerson says those chemical sunscreens with a sun protection factor of 100 need to be further examined. And just the way these sunscreens work in the body has the FDA looking into the long-term effects.

“Not that they are saying they are bad by any means,” says Dr. Lamerson. “Just that more investigation needs to be done right now to make sure they are completely safe.”

Dr. Lamerson says there is no cause for concern regarding chemical sunscreens at this time.

But for those who prefer to stay away from this type of sunscreen, she says opt for the physical barrier sunscreens which list titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as their main or active ingredient.

And she adds don’t stop using the sunscreen just because there’s a change in weather.

“We are entering into ski season. And people get significant sunburns the first couple of times they go out skiing because they forget to put it on. You need to apply and re-apply,” says Dr. Lamerson.

We probably won’t see a change in labeling for a couple of years. That’s because the FDA is going to have to do its own research. That includes public hearings. But be assured within 5 years or more a bottle of sunscreen will not look the same as it does today on store shelves.

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