Alexandra Zhang, MD, William L. Camp, MD
Lucent Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center
Both chronic accumulative and intermittent high intensity ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause damage to the skin and increase the risks of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Not to mention, UV irradiation can also lead to visible signs of aging such as dark sun spots, wrinkles, leathery changes of the skin.
So what do you need to know about protecting your skin from the sun? Lucent Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center recommends the following easy to follow sun-safety tips no matter the time of year–but especially during the warmer seasons.
Sun Protection Tip # 1: Use sunscreen15 to 30 minutes before going outside, even if it’s cloudy.
Sun Protection Tip # 2: Chose a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, make sure it is has a SPF 30 or higher and water resistant.
Sun Protection Tip # 3: Reapply sunscreen every two hours. If you are swimming or sweating a lot, you need to reapply every hour.
Sun Protection Tip # 4: Be generous about the amount of sunscreen you use. Apply at least one ounce or a shot glass of sunscreen to your entire body, especially sun exposed areas such as face, neck, arms and legs.
Sun Protection Tip # 5: Cover up your skin as much as you can. Wearing a broad-brimmed hat that shades the ears, nose and neck and a long-sleeved shirt and long pants if possible. There are certain clothes that are designed for athletes made with special sun-protective materials. Look for an Ultraviolet Protective Factor (UPF) on the clothing, which is an indicator on how well the material shields your skin from UV rays.
Sun Protection Tip # 6: Find the right time to be outside. The UV rays are the most intense between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Try to avoid the peak hours and head out to the exercise earlier in the morning or later in the evening.
Sun Protection Tip # 7: Seek shade when you are outside. If you excise in the middle of the day when the UV rays are the most harsh, you should find shade to avoid sunburns.
Sun Protection Tip # 8: Wear sunglasses when you can. Don’t forget eye protection is equally as important from UV radiation. You can find sunglasses made for outdoor activities that have a sturdier build so that they stay on your face when you exercise. Sunglasses with100% UV absorption lenses provide optimal protection for the eyes.
Sun Protection Tip # 9: Be cautious if you are on certain medications that make you more sensitive to the sun. These include specific types of blood pressure medications, antibiotics, antifungals, anti-inflammatories, and chemo medications. You can find a list of medications in Dr. Alexandra Zhang’s article on “Drug-Induced Photosensitivity”
Sun Protection Tip # 10: Visit your Dermatologist for a skin check. It is important to see your dermatologist at least once a year for a full body skin exam. Your dermatologist can also give you advice on how to check your own skin and what to look for, along with any skin issues you might be having!