A new study from University of Liverpool scientists found that people are still vulnerable to the effects of the sun because of misapplied sunscreen. Research results pointed out that, unsurprisingly, the face is the most exposed and in danger.
The study findings were presented this week, during the Annual Conference of the British Association of Dermatologists, which took place in Liverpool.
Misapplied Sunscreen Can Leave Eyelids and the Nose Unprotected
Previous research found that over 90 percent of nasal cell carcinomas form on the neck or the head. Some five to ten percent of all types of skin cancer develop on the eyelids particularly.
This new study involved 57 participants, both males and female. These were asked to apply sunscreen on their face. However, they were given no additional details or information on why they should do so.
The research team took photos of each and every participant with an ultraviolet-sensitive camera. These pictures were taken before and following the application of sunscreen. The after images helped trace the exact spread of the lotion, as the sunscreen-covered face areas were darker colored thanks to the UV.
These resulting images were segmented and then analyzed by a specifically-designed program. It helped judge just how effective each person was in applying the cream and covering their face. On average, results showed that people missed applying sunscreen to about 9.5 percent of the whole face.
The most commonly missed region seems to be the one in between the bridge of the nose and the inner corner of the eye, in 77 percent of the cases. Another commonly missed area is the one surrounding the eyes, by some 13.5 percent.
Following these results, the researchers asked the participants to apply sunscreen once again. However, this time around, they offered additional information about skin cancer and its incidence around the eyes.
This led to a slight improvement, as the sunscreen coverage only resulted in 7.7 percent unprotected areas the second time around.
Applying sunscreen to such zones is not generally recommended due to the warnings from the producers to keep their products out of the eyes. Nonetheless, it is important to use other types of protection against the sun, for example, sunglasses or even hats.
“Perhaps the most important thing to take away from this research is the importance of sunglasses. Most people consider the point of sunglasses is to protect the eyes, […]. However, they do more than that, they protect the highly cancer prone eyelid skin as well,” states Dr. Kevin Hamill.
Part of the University’s Department of Eye and Vision Science, he was also involved in the study.
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