The dangers of excess sun exposure and oxybenzone in sunscreens

In and Out Express Care cares about it’s patients’ health and well being! We strive to give our patients health information that is on the cutting edge. This is one way we provide simply better urgent care.

As summer approaches, In and Out Express Care advises everyone to be aware of the dangers of sun overexposure and oxybenzone/octinoxate in sunscreens.

Athletes who train outside daily are at increased risk of skin cancer! Please follow these guidelines to stay safe and increase your chances of remaining cancer-free.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer — the abnormal growth of skin cells — most often develops on skin exposed to the sun. But this common form of cancer can also occur on areas of your skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight. There are three major types of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

How Can I Prevent Skin Cancer? 

beach scene with sunset

In and Out Express Care advises using an oxybenzone/octinoxate free sunscreen lotion with an SPF of 15 or higher at all times when you are outside. Using sunscreen is not enough to thwart skin cancer. We advise our patients to use the following guidelines to help prevent this potentially deadly cancer.

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10am-4pm.
  • Avoid sunburn, tanning and UV beds.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses.
  • No oxybenzone please! Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen that contains no oxybenzone or oxctinoxate and has an SPF of 15 or higher every day.
  • Apply sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every 2 hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreen should be used on babies over the age of 6 months.
  • Examine your skin head to toe, every month.
  • See your friendly physician at In and Out Express Care every year for a skin cancer screening. It could save your life.

What is oxybenzone?

Oxybenzone is a drug regulated by the US Food & Drug Administration. It is allowed to be used in sunscreens, moisturizers, and other cosmetic products.

What’s the big deal about oxybenzone? 

Since 1978, oxybenzone has been demonstrated to cause a number of human diseases, including Hirschsprung’s Deformity in babies, as well as changes in birth weight, height and head circumference of babies whose mothers were exposed to oxybenzone. Oxybenzone can be passed to an infant via breast milk. In children, oxybenzone exposure is associated with lower testosterone levels in boys, delayed breast development in girls, and altered development and timing of puberty.

Why should I care about oxybenzone? 

According to the U.S. CDC, more than 97% of the U.S. population is contaminated with Oxybenzone.

What effects does oxybenzone have on our oceans? There is strong scientific evidence of the threat of oxybenzone’s impact to coral reefs and other marine habitats. It causes corals to bleach, it deforms and kills juvenile coral, and as an endocrine disruptor, causes juvenile corals to encase themselves in their own skeleton. Oxybenzone causes gender changes in fish; turning males and juveniles into sexualized females; even suppressing male mating behavior.

How does this effect us in Hampton Roads? 

We’re glad you asked! Did you know that coral lives in Chesapeake Bay? Whip coral inhabits our coastal waters and is at risk of coral bleaching from oxybenzone use in sunscreens. The fish, crab, shrimp, lobster, scallops and oysters we eat from our waters contain this toxin. Do you want to ingest this? We know we don’t!

Oxybenzone is a threat to coral reef conservation, and a bigger threat to coral reef restoration – the reef can’t come back if these sunscreen chemicals are present. The very tourists who come to enjoy our waters are killing them by the use of oxybenzone sunscreen and cosmetic products.

The video below describes issues due to oxybenzone that are faced in Hawaii, a popular tourist destination. The same issues are affecting us here in Hampton Roads.

Please be mindful of your health as well as the health of our planet. In and Out Express Care cares about you!