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Ensuring customers stay sun smart

Judie Snowden Wednesday 01 February 2017, 3:48PM
Ensuring customers stay sun smart

With summer in full swing, pharmacies should be doing good business selling sunscreen and sunglasses.  

Summer is the busiest time of the year for many coastal pharm­acies, especially if they get cruise ship passengers in town.  

These pharmacies are the one-stop shop for sunscreen and after-sun care and advice. Ensuring your staff know how to deal with customer sunscreen demands is key for the sunny season.  

Figuring out what sun protection factor (SPF) customers require is an important factor
to consider when selling sunscreen, says Anas Wadood, owner of Unichem Coromandel Pharmacy, situated in the popular coastal town.  

Mr Wadood says his team recommends SPF50 to their customers most of the time, but it's important to find out how long the customer will be in the sun for.  

"We give them education on the recommended sunscreen, we recommend SPF50 so European tourists understand the importance of using a high SPF. 

Sun Protection box"The sun protection advice we give is slip, slop, slap and wrap. That's general advice when recommending sunscreen," says Mr Wadood. 

Broad spectrum sunscreen filters out both UV (ultra violet) rays, UVA (ageing rays) and UVB (burning rays), instead of just one or the other. The SPF rating is how long the sunscreen will protect you from the sun against UVB. If it takes roughly 10 minutes for someone to get sunburnt, and they use an SPF15 sunscreen, protection would last around 150 minutes.  

Louise Reiche, dermatologist at Kauri Healthcare in Palmerston North, says broad spectrum SPF50+ is the recommended sunscreen for the New Zealand sun.  

Using sunscreen doesn't mean you can stay out in the sun all day, it provides some protection for when you are in the sun, says Dr Reiche. 

"The public under-appreciates sunscreen it is not armour, it's a filter," she says.  

An SPF15 sunscreen provides 94% protection against UVB, SPF30 provides 97% and SPF50 provides 98% protection.  

It's important to apply enough sunscreen so that it provides full protection, says Fiona Mawley, manager of Daffodil Enterprises Limited at the Cancer Society of New Zealand. 

The society recommends applying half a teaspoon of sunscreen to each arm and your face, and one teaspoon to each leg, the front of your body and your back. In total, 35ml of sunscreen should be used in each application.  

"In reality, most people apply their sunscreen at about one-third the thickness used for testing. They fail to apply it to all exposed areas of skin, and they forget to reapply it every couple of hours or after heavy sweating or swimming," says Ms Mawley. 

After applying sunscreen, Ms Mawley advises to wait 15-20 minutes before going in the sun, so that the sunscreen has time to create a barrier to protect the skin.  

New Zealand has the highest rate of melanoma skin cancer per capita in the world, according to the Ministry of Health. Melanoma skin cancer isn't as common as other skin cancers, but it is one of the most serious. UV radiation from the sun is one of the main causes of melanoma.  

Buying sunscreen and leaving it in the glovebox is pointless because it's not going to protect you, says Grant Lawrie, managing director at Skin Alive. 

"Reinforce the application side of it. They need to put it on regularly, and they need to actually put it on," says Mr Lawrie. 

Re-applying sunscreen every three to four hours is important if they're in the sun for more than two hours, he says. 

Swimming, towel drying or exercising can cause sunblock to rub off, so sunscreen needs to be re-applied for continued ­protection. Some sunscreens are water-resistant, to provide protection for swimming and exercising.  

Sunscreen comes in many forms, including lotion, cream, milk and gel. It comes in tubes, bottles, sprays and pumps for the convenience and preference of the customer.  

"Guide customers towards products that comply with the right standards and are UVA/UVB broad spectrum. All other preferences are personal and will be down to scent, feel and ­application," says Ms Mawley.  

If a customer chooses to buy a spray-on sunscreen, Dr Reiche says it's important to apply two coats to get through hair and ensure all exposed skin is covered in sunscreen.  

Tourists return to the pharmacy for sunburn advice when they don't buy a good SPF sunscreen, says Mr Wadood. 

If the sunburn isn't severe enough to see a doctor, Mr Wadood recommends using an after sun or aloe vera gel. He says paracetamol is helpful if people are experiencing pain.  

Dr Reiche agrees that using pain killers such as aspirin are good for when the skin is inflamed and painful. 

She says they will help with the inflamed skin but won't help undo the damage caused by
the sunburn.  

She recommends keeping the skin cool by having a cold bath or shower and, when the sunburn gets to the dry peeling stage, use an emollient. 

If customers understand how important sunscreen is in regions like the Coromandel, they can enjoy the sun ­safely, says Mr Wadood. 

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