An essential part of skin health and anti-aging involves protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Daily attention to sun safety can help protect your skin from premature aging, skin damage, and even skin cancer.
Protect Yourself from Sun Exposure
While 10 minutes of sun exposure three times a week provides essential nutrients like Vitamin D, it’s important to understand the risks of excessive unprotected sun exposure and how to take daily steps to safeguard your skin. Essentially, we follow the principle of “everything in moderation” at Medovate. When possible, minimize your exposure to the sun when the sun’s rays are most directly overhead with the most harmful cancer causing rays (UVB), which typically occurs from around 10 AM to 4 PM. This will help prevent sun damage or premature aging to the skin. Where possible, please seek shade or go inside during this time of day. If you must be outside during this time, please wear sun-protective clothing, wide-brim hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Wear Protective Clothing
Wearing sun protective clothing is one of the best sun protection tactics for adults and children. Wear UPF (ultraviolet protective factor) clothing that shields exposed areas from the sun, such as hats, long sleeves, and long pants. Certain fabrics such as denim, wool, polyester, bamboo/cotton blends and unbleached cottons provide increased protection as they are made with a tighter weave or denser material. Sunglasses play a vital role in protecting the eyes from the sun’s UV radiation.
Apply Sunscreen Properly
Sunscreens are a critical component of a daily sun safety plan for people of all ages and skin types. Look for sunscreens with sun protection factor (SPF) 50 that block both UVA and UVB rays. We recommend using SPF 50, as most of us only get ¼ of the SPF number we apply since we don’t use enough. The SPF number is related to the UVB rays – UVA coverage is harder to determine as the system is not as well known. As such, we recommend patients use micronized zinc oxide which has excellent UVA and UVB coverage. Most should be applied at least 15 minutes before sun exposure and applied twice on its first application (within 5 minutes) as one application will not cover the upper portions of the skin’s peaks and valleys. Many experts recommend sunscreen be reapplied every two hours and more often if swimming, perspiring, towel drying, etc. Always read the instructions in detail, and take care to apply and reapply properly. Remember sunscreen is meant to be applied “on” the skin, NOT “in” the skin.
Children need our help to ensure that they are protected against sun damage. When outside, encourage them to play in the shade, and dress them in protective clothing to prevent sunburns and skin damage. Apply sunscreen to their skin, taking care to read the instructions carefully about application for children. Infants should be kept fully out of the sun for at least the first six months At this age, use clothing, hats, stroller shades, etc. to provide sun protection, rather than relying on sunscreen.
Be Vigilant Year-Round
Many people mistakenly believe that sun protection only matters in the summertime, or during sunny weather. This is a dangerous myth! In fact, it is not uncommon to get sunburned in mid-winter or on a cloudy, overcast day. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are invisible and can penetrate cloud cover and cool weather, so please take care to protect your skin in all climates and seasons year-round.
Visit Your Dermatologist
Lastly, visit your board-certified dermatologist regularly to determine if your sun exposure has led to any skin damage. Your dermatologist can recommend appropriate sun safety behaviors and sun protective products to help your skin stay healthy and youthful, including new supplements with evidence-based supplements to reduce your skin cancer risk. For more information about skin cancer prevention and sun safety, please schedule your appointment here at Medovate Dermatology & Mohs Surgery by visiting our website or calling 847.499.5500 to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists.