SPF? UVA? UVB? Sunscreen Terminology Confusing


Survey Results

A survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Dermatology (JAMA Dermatology) in 2015 showed that many people are still confused by SPF, UVA and UVB information on sunscreen.

The study explored understanding of sunscreen labelling among 114 USA citizens over a 3 month period.

Key findings were that only 43% understood the definition of SPF value and only 55.3% knew how much sunscreen was required to achieve protection.

Dr. Roopal Kundu, associate professor in dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a dermatologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, was lead author of the study. He comments:

“We need to do a better job of educating people about sun protection and make it easier for them to understand labels,” said

More encouragingly, 81.6% of participants understood that sun avoidance is superior to sun protection in skin cancer prevention – so staying out of the sun and/or covering up is understood to be better than sun exposure even when sunscreen is worn.

Dr Kundu says:

“Just because you buy SPF 100 doesn’t mean you are 100% protected.

“Staying out of the sun is the only way to guarantee 100% protection.”

The study highlighted confusion about labelling and understanding terminology associated with protection against skin cancer, sunburn and premature ageing.

Dr Kundu concluded:

“A lot of people seem unsure about the definition of SPF, too.

“Only 43 percent understood that if you apply SPF 30 sunscreen to skin 15 minutes before going outdoors, you can stay outside 30 times longer without getting a sunburn.”


Skin Cancer Protection and Detection

As the survey highlighted, avoiding the sun and avoiding sunburn are extremely important factors in reducing the risk of skin cancer.

However, while sun protection is better understood nowadays, melanoma or worrying skin lesions could relate to damage years earlier. That’s why it is important to be vigilant for changing moles and odd skin lesions.

Melanomas caught at the earliest stage can be treated very easily with mole removal surgery. Early treatment has excellent outcomes, but as melanoma progresses and spreads, the chances of a positive outcome decline.

Private Mole Checks & Removal

The London Mole Removal Centre is a private company, offering checks and treatment for unwanted moles and other skin lesions (cysts, skin tags, warts, verruca, lipoma etc) at 5 mole removal clinics.

All consultations and treatments are carried out in person by doctors who are specially trained in the latest laser and skin surgery techniques and are highly experienced in the field.

Further advantages of private treatment at the London Mole Removal Centre include:

  • No waiting lists
  • Moles can often be removed in the same appointment as the consultation
  • Choice of clinics in London and also Bristol
  • Removed moles tested with report provided

For more information or to book a consultation, please complete the form on this web page or call 020 7731 3791.