Six Things Everyone Should Know About Sunscreen

Six Things Everyone Should Know About Sunscreen

By Dr. Ben Carter

sunscreen safety, St. George, UtahA few months ago, I diagnosed a patient with skin cancer.  The patient was accompanied by a family member who asked me, “How can the sun, which is good for us, cause skin cancer?”

The answer to that question is too long to explain in detail in this article, but her question made me think in broader terms about things that are good for us, but can cause damage if exposure is excessive.

Too much thyroid hormone causes hair loss, tremors, rapid heart rate and other health problems.  Too much ibuprofen, which can be helpful to treat pain, can lead to kidney failure.  Too much calcium can cause abdominal pain, kidney stones, memory loss and bone fractures.  All of these things, when produced or consumed in appropriate amounts, are beneficial to our bodies.  You can, it would seem, have “too much of a good thing.”

Some things we have control over—such as our consumption of ibuprofen and our sun exposure. Some things we do not have control over—such as our thyroid hormone production (or in my case my chocolate consumption).  The things we can control or behaviors we can modify are things we should pay particular attention to.

My patient required surgery to treat her skin cancer.  While surgical removal of skin cancer is commonplace for me in my practice, for many of my patients this experience causes anxiety and discomfort.

It is my preference to avoid the sun damage that can cause cancer in the first place, so as to avoid biopsies and surgeries later on.  Hopefully the information presented below will help us improve our interactions with the sun and its rays and reduce our risk of skin cancer.

Here are six things everyone should know about sunscreen:

  • SPF stands for sun protection factor – it is based on a sunscreen’s ability to reflect or absorb ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. It has no reference to ultraviolet A (UVA) rays.  Both UVB and UVA rays from the sun can cause cancer. There are two ways to think about SPF. First, SPF is a way to measure how long it will take for someone to get sunburned WITH sunscreen vs. WITHOUT.

SPF 15 = 150 minutes to burn with sunscreen applied/10 minutes without sunscreen applied

If it normally takes me 10 minutes to burn (have my skin turn light pink) and I apply SPF 15 sunscreen, it will take 150 minutes for me to burn. The second way to think about it is based on blocking power as a percentage.

  1. SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays
  2. SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of UVB rays
  3. SPF 50 blocks 98 percent of UVB rays

Anything over SPF 50 is likely providing marginal benefit at substantially increased cost.

  • Not all sunscreens are created equal. The term broad spectrum refers to the fact that a particular sunscreen can block both UVB and UVA rays. However, even amongst broad spectrum sunscreens there are differences.  Perhaps the most important thing to understand is whether or not you are using a physical blocker (zinc) or a chemical blocker (avobenzone).  They are both effective but physical blockers offer a more complete barrier to UVB and UVA rays.  Newer zinc sunscreens can be both effective and virtually invisible.  I recommend zinc oxide concentrations above 7%.  Some of my favorite sunscreens include Blue Lizard and ELTA MD, which both have zinc concentrations as high as 10% but do not leave my face feeling pasty white.  For a daily moisturizer I recommend, Cerave AM.
  • You have to reapply, particularly between the hours of 10AM and 3PM. Some of the blocking ingredients may degrade over 60-120 minutes making reapplication of sunscreen every two hours a must.
  • There is no such thing as waterproof, sweat proof or all day protection when you are talking about sunscreen. In 2013, the FDA issued formal regulations prohibiting sunscreen manufacturers from making these claims.  Sunscreens must now use the terms water resistant, sweat resistant and long lasting protection.
  • Vitamin D deficiency has not been associated with sunscreen use. There is some controversy regarding this topic, but to date, the large scale medical studies indicate no significant reduction in vitamin D production following application of sunscreen.  This is particularly true for the majority of us who use far less than the recommended amount of sunscreen (recommended amount is one shot glass for full body coverage).   Alternative Vitamin D sources include salmon, eggs, fortified milk and orange juice and oral supplementation.
  • In addition to preventing skin cancer, sunscreens also prevent wrinkling, discoloration of the skin and aging of the skin. Many of these effects are the result of UVA rays not UVB making broad spectrum coverage even more important.

Dr. Ben’s Tips for Enjoying the Sunshine

  • Apply sunscreen 15 minutes prior to exposure
  • One shot glass of sunscreen to cover your body (quarter of a bottle)
  • SPF 30 to SPF 50 – Nothing more, nothing less
  • Sun protective clothing reduces sunscreen applications considerably
  • Remember the high priced real estate – Protect the ears, nose and the rest of the face

Riverside Medical Arts offers a variety of skin care products, including sunscreen.  Check out our Skin and Health Products.

 or call us at 435.628.6466 to schedule a consultation with a Riverside Medical Arts provider.

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Get Proactive about your Aging Process

BotoxFor many years it has been said that prevention is the best medicine. This statement rings true whether we are discussing disease prevention with healthy diet and exercise, or whether we are pondering ways to manage our aging process. At Riverside Medical Arts, patients receive the one on one attention they need to meet their goals for health and wellness. When it comes to facial aging, there are a number of common solutions that are excellent forms of prevention.


Just a few decades ago, the idea of rejuvenating the facial aesthetic with an injected substance, a mild toxin no less, was virtually unheard of. What is interesting to know is that the botulinum toxin that is the base for Botox Cosmetic was a common therapeutic treatment long before we knew what it could do for wrinkles, and it still is today. The muscle release that occurs when this substance blocks nerve signals facilitates comfort for individuals with certain muscular disorders. It also releases tension in the muscles that cause cosmetic concerns such as frown lines, worry lines, and crow’s feet.


Facial aging is largely a consequence of volume loss. When we look at our skin, we do not typically consider that there is a matrix that lies beneath it, lending support. Subcutaneous tissues rely on water, collagen, and elastin. Each of these chemicals breaks down in response to the aging process, as well as exposure to ultraviolet rays, a.k.a. sunlight. Dermal fillers are often formulated with hyaluronic acid, a biocompatible substance that draws in water to smooth lines and wrinkles.

Collagen Therapy

Collagen therapy comes in numerous forms today. This is advantageous because the old-school way of restoring collagen was to inject this very substance, which often came from an animal stores. For that reason, it was necessary to perform allergy testing prior to cosmetic treatment. Today, the common method of restoring collagen is to stimulate the body’s natural production. This may be done with an injectable solution, or with laser and light therapies.

Aging is going to happen. That does not mean that you have to except the cosmetic consequences. For friendly care in St. George, call 435-628-6466.

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The Rise of Male Cosmetic Care

Injectables and Wrinkle Reduction st george ut | riverside medical artsHistorically, the words “man” and “cosmetic” have not gone hand in hand. Throughout the last several years, however, we have seen a major shift in the number of men seeking cosmetic care to keep their skin looking as young as they feel on the inside.


Many women are familiar with Botox cosmetic and its power against wrinkles around the eyes and the forehead. In recent years, the term “Brotox” has also become commonly used. More men are feeling free to discuss their anti-aging routine, and its inclusion of Botox to minimize the appearance of frown lines and forehead wrinkles. A short treatment is all it takes to make you appear more friendly and approachable.

Dermal fillers

What Botox can’t do, dermal fillers can. Many of a dermal filler products used today contain hyaluronic acid, a natural compound with humectant characteristics. When injected into or just beneath creases on the skin, a filler draws water into the area, leading to a smoother, younger looking surface.

Treating the signs of aging with injectables like Botox and dermal filler’s is a convenient and affordable way to maintain the desired degree of attractiveness.
To see how we can help you, give our office a call.

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Why you Should Consider Radio Frequency for Facial Rejuvenation

Radio Frequency treatment at riverside medical in st. george utahMany men and women are facing problems such as sagging jowls, under eye bags, lines around the nose and mouth, and deflation in the cheeks. These are just a few of the many signs of aging that seem to get worse with every passing year. Although the option of facial plastic surgery has existed for decades, the current trend is to minimize the signs of age with non-surgical techniques. Botox and dermal fillers lead the way, but technologies such as radio frequency are very much worth consideration.

Radio Frequency Energy and the Skin

Radio frequency is an electrical current ranging between a few and a few hundred GHz. The electromagnetic radiation from a radio frequency device bypasses the epidermis, or surface of the skin, without causing it to heat. However, the underlying dermal tissues absorb thermal energy and transfer it to heat, paving the way for positive effects.

It is in the dermal tissues where collagen is produced, and where it is stored as a supportive matrix of fibers that hold up the skin. When heated, collagen fibers are modified. Their frayed structure contracts and thickens as heat is absorbed. In many cases, this produces an immediate improvement in the appearance of the skin. However, most people notice progressive changes as collagen is remodeled over time in response to a perceived injury.

Radio frequency has been around for quite some time. Its therapeutic value has been proven in numerous medical applications since 2002, when the technology was first approved by the FDA. It is only recently that the aesthetic benefits of RF have become increasingly recognized.

Because the tightness and overall quality of the skin is improved with the infusion of collagen prompted by radio frequency, there are a number of improvements that can be seen with treatment. These include:

  • Lifted, more defined cheeks
  • Greater definition at the jaw line
  • Tightening of the skin under the eyes, and reduction in puffiness
  • Tighter skin on the forehead
  • Slight lift to the brow and skin on the upper eyelid
  • Reduced sagging and fat beneath the chin
  • Smoother skin on the neck

Call Riverside Medical Arts to discuss your ideal method of facial rejuvenation. (435) 628-6466.

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Why Radio Frequency Facials are the New Trend in Anti-Aging

Radio Frequency Facial St. George UTAt Riverside Medical Arts, we offer numerous surgical and non-surgical anti-aging solutions to our patients from the St George area. We recognize the need for customization with every treatment, and are proud to provide you with the choices you need. One of the innovative methods of tightening and lifting the face used today is radio frequency.

What is a Radio Frequency Facial?

Radio frequency is radio waves. In clinical research, this technology has been found to have a positive effect on the skin. This form of energy causes the tissues that lie in the dermis to contract, progressively renewing the surface of the skin. The process is stimulated by the transfer of radio waves to heat as energy is absorbed by dermal tissues. Here, old collagen is denatured and healthy new strands begin to form. The influx of new collagen protein prompts the tightening of overlying skin, an improvement that becomes more visible with time, rather than the other way around.

Benefits of the Radio Frequency Facial

Who doesn’t like the idea of a non-surgical face lift? While there are certainly limitations to what is possible with a non-surgical procedure, radio frequency facials have produced outstanding results for many of our clients. Some of the benefits of treatment include:

  • Decreased wrinkles on the forehead
  • Brow lifting
  • Tightened skin beneath the eyes
  • Slight lift in the cheeks
  • Improvement in jaw line contouring, diminished jowls
  • Tightened skin beneath the chin and on the neck

Treatment Planning

A non-aesthetic benefit of the radio frequency facial is that there is no down time associated with treatments. Office visits typically last less than an hour, depending on the area we are treating. In each session, tissue is heated in a comfortable, uniform manner. For a short time after each treatment, the skin may look slightly red.  The number of sessions we recommend will differ based on the extent of tightening that needs to be achieved. However, most patients see immense benefit in six to twelve sessions. Because radio frequency elicits a natural response that continues to promote tight, youthful skin, the final result becomes more noticeable over several weeks.

See how great your skin can look. Call Riverside Medical Arts at (435) 628-6466.

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Understanding Skin Laxity and How to Treat it

When we are young, our skin is smooth and taut. This is because the superficial and deeper layers of tissue work together in a supportive manner. New cells that develop in deeper layers of skin make their way to the surface as the damaged, dead cells that make up the stratum corneum fall away.

Cellular turnover occurs about every 30 days when we are young. However, this process slows to about every 50 days as we age. The longer old cells remain on the surface of the skin, the more drab and lackluster its outward appearance.

Skin Laxity St. George UTAbout 90% of the skin’s thickness is in the dermis, the layer of tissue beneath the surface. Here, vital proteins like elastin and collagen are stored. Collagen is referred to as a “firming protein” because it is this substance that forms the matrix of fibers that keep skin lifted and smooth. Elasticity is protected by elastin, which helps the skin bounce back if stretching has occurred.

Adequate amounts of elastin and collagen are indicated by beautifully firm skin. As stored become depleted with age, sun damage, and other factors, the skin becomes dehydrated, dry, wrinkled, and saggy. The defined contours that once existed across the cheeks and jaw line become soft and droopy.

In addition to diminished collagen, the fat cells that make up the subcutaneous layer of skin thin out. This leaves very little cushion to support facial contours. When volume from fat cells is lost, the face may appear flat and sad.

Addressing the Signs of Age

It used to be that the signs of age described here could be addressed only with cosmetic plastic surgery. Of course, there are patients for whom a brow lift, eyelid surgery, or facelift is appropriate. However, many can now get a jump start on their anti-aging routine with non-surgical, non-invasive treatments like radio frequency.

In recent years, multiple forms of non-surgical skin tightening have been developed. The benefit that radio frequency has over other methods is its ability to both reduce fat cells and tighten skin. Other treatments reduce pockets of fat but have little to no effect on the production of collagen. With radio frequency treatments, this production increases to promote a beautifully lifted face.

Learn how radio frequency treatments can rejuvenate your appearance. Call Riverside Medical Arts at (435) 628-6466.

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Learn how to Reduce your Risk of Skin Cancer

As summer approaches, a topic that is on the lips of dermatologists everywhere is skin cancer. This type of cancer currently outnumbers all others, affecting one in five Americans and killing thousands every year – and that number reflects non-melanoma skin cancers only.

What is heartbreaking about the number of annual skin cancer deaths is that this disease is preventable. UV exposure is the identified cause in approximately 80 to 90 percent of diagnosed cases. Additionally, early intervention can make an enormous difference in the prognosis of most skin cancers.

Protecting Yourself

The staff at Riverside Medical Arts is committed to active participation with patients through which the number of skin cancer cases can be decreased. There are three distinct steps to skin cancer prevention. These are:

  1. summer skin carePractice sun-safety. This means wearing appropriate sunscreen and seeking shade during peak hours of sunlight. Indoor tanning should also be avoided.
  2. Learn the art of self-examination. The more familiar you are with your own skin, the more quickly you will be able to notice a suspicious growth. Any change that occurs in a growth or mole should be evaluated by your dermatologist.
  3. Have an annual skin cancer screening. Professional skin cancer screenings have led to a fifty-percent reduction in melanoma deaths, according to a study found in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

What are we Looking for?

During self-examinations and professional skin cancer screenings, the goal is to identify abnormalities in the skin. This may sound difficult, especially if you have quite a few moles, like most people. However, certain characteristics have been identified as suspicious. These include:

  • A marked change in color, size, or texture
  • Large diameter, ¼ inch across or more
  • Jagged or irregularly shaped edges
  • Any new mole or growth (which is not a new mole, but a sign of sun damage)
  • Itching, bleeding, oozing, crusting, or painful growths
  • Sores that will not heal

When in doubt about the appearance of a growth on your skin, your best plan of attack is not to “wait and see” but to see right now. Schedule a visit at Riverside Medical Arts for your annual skin cancer screening.

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Regain Vitality with Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy

We often think of hormones for the role they play in our sex life. However, hormones like testosterone, estrogen, thyroid, progesterone, and DHEA are crucial to general health and wellness. Every cell in the body has hormone receptors, which is why low levels of various hormones can have such an enormous impact on your daily life.

The decline of hormones occurs naturally with age. It can be expedited by obesity, stress, alcohol, and poor nutrition. An important aspect of age management today is identifying which hormones are low, and developing ways to optimize levels with lifestyle and, when necessary, hormone replacement therapy.

Healthy Lifestyle for Hormonal Balance

We appreciate our patients’ desire for natural solutions to their health concerns. Hormone regulation can be a complex matter, but one that tends to become more manageable with regular exercise, a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh vegetables, and avoidance of alcohol and tobacco. Stress management techniques are also beneficial for those with hormonal imbalance.

What Bioidentical Hormones can do

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy st george utah | Riverside medical artsBoth men and women experience significant drops in hormones as they age. Some of the symptoms of imbalance can affect each gender the same. For instance, low testosterone (yes, testosterone is important for women, too!) can increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and insomnia in men and women. Low-T also affects libido and mental clarity. Plant-based alternatives to the hormones your body should produce can help you reclaim vitality and greater happiness.

Direct benefits of bioidentical hormone replacement include:

• Fat loss and muscle mass. Both testosterone and estrogen affect how the body stores fat. With optimization, the body more readily lets go of fat. There is also an increase in muscle mass, which leads to greater fat burning power.
• Improved libido. Low testosterone can wipe out your desire for sex. Both men and women report heightened libido after their hormonal balance is regained.
• Hormonal balance promotes better moods and can decrease feelings of anxiety, irritability, and depression.
• Healthy sleep. Sleep is regulated in the hypothalamus, which can be disrupted when hormones are not balanced. Restoring optimal balance can have a positive effect on sleep patterns.
• Healthy bones. Bone tissue partially relies on hormonal balance to absorb calcium. Individuals with optimal hormonal balance are at a decreased risk for osteoporosis.

Riverside Medical Arts has experts in the area of bioidentical hormone therapy available to answer your questions. Call (435) 628-6466 to see how you can get back to your best self.

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Winter Skin Care Tips

Even if you live in an area where snowfall is rare, lower temperatures, dry air, and chilly wind can take a toll on your skin during the winter months. Dry, traumatized skin in the winter can lead to eczema flare-ups, flaking skin, and more. Keep reading to find out how to protect your skin from the winter weather.

Keep Making Moisturizer A Priority

Moisturizer should already be a part of your daily skin care routine, but it is extra important in the winter when the air is cold and dry. Be sure to apply moisturizer to your face and neck in the morning and keep lotion ready for your hands and legs. You may also want to use a retinol cream or special moisturizer when going to bed at night.winter skin tips at riverside medical spa in st. george utah

Remember That Sun Damage Is Still Possible

Cold weather may make sun damage seem far away, but sun damage is still a real possibility in the cold weather, especially if you’re out skiing or snowboarding in high altitude areas. Wear sunglasses and sunscreen when spending time outside this winter to avoid sun damage.

Sleep With A Humidifier

Keeping a humidifier in your bedroom can help your skin stay moist during the cold winter nights.

Bundle Up, But Avoid Coarse Fabrics

Extra layers can help keep moisture in your skin, but avoid coarse fabrics like wool and itchy sweaters. If you’re going to be wearing something that is coarse, layer it over cotton so your skin doesn’t get irritated.

Limit Time In The Hot Water

Hot showers and long baths may be soothing, but they’ll sap the moisture from your skin and your hair—especially during the cold winter months. Keep your showers to 10 minutes a day so that your skin can stay soft and smooth.

The following tips can help you get through the winter months with smooth, happy skin. To learn more about taking care of your skin and looking your best all winter long, schedule a consultation at Riverside Medical Arts where we specialize in dermatology and other cosmetic treatments that can help you look and feel your best.

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Eczema Basics

Eczema St. George UT | Riverside Medical ArtsEczema is an all too common, and irritating skin condition that can be painful and frustrating. Keep reading to learn more about how you can keep your skin healthy and relieve irritation.

What is eczema?

Eczema is a skin condition that is often referred to as dermatitis. People with eczema often have flare ups of red, itchy, dry, flaky skin and they get frequent uncomfortable rashes. Rashes can occur all over the body, but they are more common near the elbows, wrists, and knees. Adults and children are vulnerable to eczema and some infants even experience rashes on their faces or necks.

Common symptoms of eczema include swelling, cracking dry skin, itching, redness, peeling, and blistering. Eczema can be hereditary or it can be a response to an allergy. Flare ups also often occur in the winter when the air is cold and dry.

Avoiding Flare Ups

If you think you may have eczema, you should consult your dermatologist. There are a few things you can do to prevent flare ups. The first step is to find out what triggers them for you. Consider getting checked for both food, and environmental allergies. Keep careful track of when rashes appear and track your diet and activities to see if you notice anything that makes your eczema worse. Most people with eczema are better off avoiding extreme temperatures and anything that causes inflammation.

People with eczema should usually avoid:

  • Itchy fabrics such as wool
  • Excessive exposure to pet dander or pollen
  • Stressful situations
  • Scented lotions, soaps, and other hygiene products

Treatment Options

Eczema can be uncomfortable, but there are treatment options available. In some cases, lifestyle and diet changes can significantly improve your condition (particularly if you have allergies). Some people use antihistamines to combat symptoms of eczema. Other treatments involve preventing inflammation throughout the body and restoring the barrier function of the skin. Treatments for eczema also often involve topical steroids and creams.

If you’d like relief from eczema, schedule an appointment at Riverside Medical Arts to find out what is contributing to your flare ups and decide on a treatment plan.

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