It’s Spring Time!

Spring is here and it is very important to start thinking about taking care of our skin in the sun. Any amount of unprotected sun exposure is damaging to the skin, causing premature aging and can lead to future skin cancer. Even a tan is a sign that your skin has been injured by ultraviolet (UV) rays. This injury can cause a range of damage including age spots and wrinkles or skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma or melanoma.

There are many ways to enjoy the new, sunny weather without putting your skin health at risk.

Choosing and applying sunscreen:

The most important way to protect your skin from sun damage is to wear sunscreen on all exposed areas of your body. Remember that is important year-round, not just in summer.

You can even apply a separate sunscreen, even if your makeup or moisturizer has sunscreen in it, especially during summer months.

Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when buying sunscreen:

1) Look for a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

2) Choose a sunscreen that is water resistant. You’ll still need to reapply it after being in the water or sweating, but a water resistant sunscreen should maintain its SPF level at least 40 minutes after exposure to water. Also, reapply every two hours.

3) Look for a sunscreen that offers protection from UVA and UVB rays. These sunscreens are labeled “broad-spectrum.” Ingredients to look for include ecamsule, oxybenzone, and avobenzone. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are great for children and people with sensitive skin or eczema.

4) Choose a sunscreen that you like. That will help you remember to use it. Sunscreens are now available in creams, sprays, lotions, and foams, so there are plenty of options to choose from. Again, for sensitive skin, fragrances and colors could contain chemicals that may be irritating.

5) Application of sunscreen is important. Apply sunscreen about 30 min before you plan to go outside, be generous with sunscreen and make sure to cover often missed spots such as ears, feet, and scalp. Also, remember the edges and around the straps of bathing suits.

**It is important to get into the habit of using sunscreen every day, even during the fall and winter months and on overcast days. We often damage our skin and burn when we think it is not sunny!

Watch your back. It can be hard to keep sunscreen on while you’re swimming, which can leave your back and other parts of your body unprotected. Some companies now make swimwear and clothing that protect from UV rays such as Coolibar. These suits and shirts may be especially good for young children who are in and out of the water often.

Don’t forget your lips. Lips can burn too, and they are another common area for skin cancer. Protect your lips by choosing a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher, and apply it every two hours while you’re in the sun.

Other prevention tips:

Wear a hat. A wide-brimmed hat will help keep the sun off your head, face, and the back of your neck. For the best protection choose a hat with a tight weave.

Choose clothing carefully. Wearing dark-colored clothing or beach cover-up with a tight weave can also limit sun exposure. The darker the color and tighter the weave, the more protection the clothing offers.

Avoid peak hours. The sun’s rays are strongest from about 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. A good rule of thumb is to limit your time in the sun when your shadow is shorter than you are.

Seek the shade. Enjoy the outdoors from under the shade of a cabana or a row of trees. Because the sun’s rays reflect off sand and water, it’s a good idea to use multiple umbrellas or a larger shade structure while at the beach or pool.

Protect your eyes. The delicate skin of the eyelids is a common place for skin cancer. And excessive sun exposure can also lead to cataracts. Choose a pair of sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection rating to protect your eyes from the sun’s damage.

We hope this information is helpful and we wish you a fun, safe, spring and summer in the sun (without burning)!!!

Dr. Julie Cantatore-Francis

Dr. Cantatore-Francis is a board certified dermatologist and pediatric dermatologist. While she specializes in pediatric dermatology, her practice encompasses all aspects of general and cosmetic dermatology.

More Posts