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Sharp Health News

The truth about 3 common skin care myths

Feb. 21, 2017

The truth about 3 common skin care myths

With a world of health information at your fingertips, it's important to remember that not everything that shows up in web search results is medically accurate.

According to Dr. Elan Newman, a dermatologist with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, it's OK to get your skin care advice online, as long as you pick the right source.

Dr. Newman's go-to resources for skin care information are the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and PubMed.gov, a database of medical literature maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

"PubMed is where many doctors fact-check claims made by products. It's a great resource for actual clinical data before it is transcribed and manipulated into the stories you read online and through social media," he says.

Dr. Newman takes on three popular skin care myths:

1. Coconut oil is helpful for fungal infections: FALSE.
Athlete's foot and tinea versicolor are two examples of skin infections caused by fungi and yeast. There are countless websites touting the benefit of using coconut oil for such infections, but these claims are not true, according to Dr. Newman.

"The fatty acids in coconut oil are actually food for fungus," says Dr. Newman. "Treating your fungal infection with coconut oil will make your infection worse."

2. There is little difference between SPF 30 and 50, and the higher the SPF, the longer you can stay in the sun: PARTLY TRUE.
Dr. Newman says there is little difference when you first go out into the sun, but after an hour, most of the SPF 30 has been consumed while the SPF 50 is still working.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen that is at least SPF 30, but recent studies show that sunscreens with SPF higher than 50 not only work better, but also last longer and are more protective.

"While it is true that higher SPF products do provide longer-lasting protection than lower SPF products, the current recommendation is to reapply any sunscreen every one to two hours," reminds Dr. Newman.

3. Organic and natural skin products are the best and most gentle: NOT ALWAYS.
"For patients who have sensitive skin or atopic dermatitis, these can sometimes be irritating," says Dr. Newman. If you experience any reaction or discomfort from a product, stop using it immediately and speak with your dermatologist.

"The most important thing to do when digesting the information you read online is to know whether the source is reputable and to remember that even the best scientific studies do not consider the delicacy and uniqueness of your own skin," says Dr. Newman.

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