Sunscreen is required to protect the eyelids from the damaging effects of the sun
Sunscreen and eyelids: A recent study exposed the dangers of the incorrect application of sunscreen and the need for the public to realise that they must protect their eyes and not just the actual eye, but the eyelids and the periorbital area because basal cell Carcinoma is a very real risk of excessive sun exposure. The consequences of the improper application of sunscreen were demonstrated as a study using volunteers by applying sunscreen how they thought they should do it. A UV sensitive camera showed how their faces were covered with sunscreen and the parts of their faces that they forgot or ignored.
At least 10% of people did not put sunscreen anywhere near eyelids, even though this is the most common area for sun cancer treatment. More than 90% of basal cell carcinomas occur on the head and on the neck and on the eyelids skin cancers account for 5% to 10% of all skin cancers. Once the participants of the study had been talked to about the risks of skin cancer on the eyelids, there was a small improvement of their application, but there was still about 8% of individuals left unprotected. Therefore we have to think about having sunglasses as well as sun cream around the eyes. It is quite natural not to want put sunscreen actually on the eyelids because of the fear that the sunscreen may burn and feel uncomfortable, or that even it is too delicate and does not need it. However, the eyelids are the most important area requiring sunscreen.
For instance, on the lower lids, you can put sunscreen right up to almost 2 mm from the lash line and across the bridge of the nose and the glabella, which is the area between the eyebrows. Of course, you must also put sunscreen below the eyebrows where there is an area of at least 1 cm and round to the corners of the smile lines where sunscreen can be applied.
If you are concerned about not putting sunscreen on the part of the upper eyelid immediately above the lashes and below the lid fold, then you must be wearing sunglasses when you go out. Remember that even if it is not a sunny day, there is still a lot of UVA and UVB that is penetrating through the clouds and then reflects several times between the ground and the clouds intensifying the amount we are exposed to.
In summary, many people do not apply their sun creams to a tenth of their face. That tenth of their face missed is more often around the eyes, which are the risk for cancers such as basal cell carcinoma. We advise proper skin protection with SPF 50.
Dr Jennifer Crawley, the Consultant Dermatologist at Clinica London, will advise on skin damage and suspected basal cell carcinomas on the face, around the eyes, and the rest of the body.
Jennifer Crawley is the Consultant Dermatologist at Clinica London with a special interest in dermatology. She is an expert in both adult and paediatric dermatology and has particular interests in research, teaching and leading audit projects.