Disclosures: Rigel reports serving as an advisor/consultant for Almirall, Beiersdorf, Castle Biosciences, DermTech, Ferndale, Johnson & Johnson, Myriad Genetics, Ortho Dermatologics, Pfizer and Scibase. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
January 12, 2022
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Sunscreens targeting UVA/UVB light may not provide complete photoprotection

Disclosures: Rigel reports serving as an advisor/consultant for Almirall, Beiersdorf, Castle Biosciences, DermTech, Ferndale, Johnson & Johnson, Myriad Genetics, Ortho Dermatologics, Pfizer and Scibase. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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Sunscreens protecting individuals from ultraviolet A and B light may provide only incomplete skin protection, according to a consensus statement from a panel of dermatology experts.

“The negative effects of sun exposure have become better accepted among health care professionals and the lay public over recent decades,” Darrell S. Rigel, MD, MS, of the department of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, and colleagues wrote.

Sunscreen on Toddler
Sunscreens protecting individuals from ultraviolet A and B light may provide only incomplete skin protection.

They suggested that much of the research into the impact of sunlight light has focused on ultraviolet (UV) light in the 290 nm to 320 nm range, or UVB wavelengths. It follows, then, that most sunscreen products have been developed to minimize UVB exposure, according to the researchers.

While less is known about the impact of UVA light in the 320 nm to 400 nm range and visible light in the 400 nm to 700 nm range, the impacts of these types of light have gained increasing attention recently, particularly since visible light comprises some half of the solar radiation that reaches the earth’s surface.

Some studies have shown that visible light may induce hyperpigmentation in individuals with Fitzpatrick skin types (FST) IV to VI, while others have demonstrated a contribution of visible light to exacerbating pigmentary disorders such as melasma.

It was with all of this in mind that a panel of dermatologists and photobiologists developed consensus recommendations and clinical guidelines for photoprotection. The resulting document included a number of consensus statements.

“UVA/UVB protection alone is not sufficient for overall skin health, especially in dark skin types,” the experts wrote in the first statement.

The next statement suggests that emerging types of sun protection should be considered and investigated. In addition, individuals with dark skin types may be unaware that a lack of skin protection could lead to adverse outcomes, according to the experts.

Major gaps exist between protective efforts for UVA/UVB light and visible light, according to another consensus statement.

Regarding clinical management, the experts noted that overall patient assessments should include topics pertaining to skin protection from the sun. In addition, each patient should receive an individualized skin protection management regimen.

The experts also covered topics pertaining to education about photoprotection. They noted that increased understanding of the impacts of visible light is needed among both dermatologists and patients. Moreover, additional research on the impacts of this light should be conducted.

“It is increasingly recognized that sun care should be personalized based on FST, degree of sun exposure and utility of individual sunscreen formulations and ingredients,” the researchers wrote. “The knowledge base surrounding the effects of UV and [visible light] on skin is expanding, but gaps in understanding remain for both clinicians and, more prominently, patients.”