At last, summer is here again, with warmer weather beckoning us to spend more time outdoors. This is especially the case right now with most everyone feeling cooped-up due to the viral pandemic.
We want you to have fun, but also be safe—whether you golf, garden, walk, or do any other outdoor activities. Through our work in dermatology, we see numerous hazardous effects of ultraviolet light exposure. The worst immediate effect, of course, is sunburn—see the recent tips we published about this: https://www.midlandsderm.com/extinguishing-your-sunburn/. Many of the long-term effects include premature aging and skin cancers like melanoma.
Summer Sun Tips
For these reasons, the staff at Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands want to share with you our tips for having the safest summer possible when it comes to the sun.
Do not ever use a tanning bed or any artificial form of ultraviolet light on your skin unless under the direction of an experienced dermatology provider to treat skin disease. It has been more than 10 years since the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified tanning beds as the highest order (group 1) carcinogen due to how they cause skin cancer in humans. Using them to get a tan is never safe.
Minimize sun exposure during peak daylight hours, which are generally are from 10 AM to 6 PM this time of year. Keep an eye on the clock and be mindful of how long you have spent outside when you last applied sunscreen, and how much direct sunlight exposure you have received. Each of us is a bit different in terms of our ability to tolerate sunlight—some have a very fair complexion that can sunburn very rapidly whereas others with darker complexions can tolerate much more sun exposure.
When outdoors during daytime in the summer, use measures to shade your skin. This includes seeking shade. Consider a broad-brimmed hat and sun-protective clothing. Sun protective clothing is readily available. One of the main makers that we recommend is Coolibar (www.coolibar.com).
Use sunscreen and use it wisely like a pro. Think about using this anytime you expect to spend more than 15 minutes outside in a day. Apply two coats before going out—one coat 20 min before and another coat immediately before you go. Be thorough in your application. Many people forget the tops and backs of the ears, tops of the feet, and parts of the back. Consider having someone help you reach these areas. Help your children apply sunscreen so that they learn by your example and do a thorough job. Also, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours.
Many sunscreen products are available. Active ingredients include both physical and chemical blocking agents. Physical blockers like titanium or zinc reflect the UV light. Chemical blockers, such as avobenzone, absorb the light. Some of the best sunscreens will have a combination of active sunscreen agents. We recommend looking for products that are broad-spectrum, meaning they block both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B light.
If you will be doing activities where sweating or water exposure is expected, look for a water-resistant sunscreen. For the SPF number, we generally recommend you use a sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or more. Neutrogena is one of the most common product lines that our dermatology providers recommend.
You can find cosmetic grade sunscreens (Skin Medica) in our on-line store at https://midlandsderm.brilliantconnections.com/home?lang=en_US, or in our clinics. We also have powder-based sunscreens (Color Science) which are available for purchase in our Omaha and Council Bluffs clinics. These provide broad-spectrum UV protection without the greasy feel. All Color Science (staff favorite) cosmetic products have some sun protection in them.
Any review of sun protection is incomplete without covering at least briefly some of the hot buttons or controversial topics.
First, the hazard that comes from minimizing sun exposure can be lowering your vitamin D levels. The primary importance of vitamin D is that it helps us absorb Calcium from our gut maintaining healthy bones. For vitamin D that our bodies make, the final step in production occurs in the skin and is triggered by ultraviolet light. However, we do not need sun exposure to get our vitamin D. You can get this through supplementation either through fortified milk or taking a vitamin with it. There are numerous online resources that will direct you as to the appropriate dose of vitamin D.
Next, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that some chemical blockers in sunscreen can be absorbed into the body and detected in the bloodstream after use. More study is needed to determine if this could have any health effects for us. Detecting these chemicals in the blood is not really a surprise at all since the skin is very good at absorbing things applied to it. For now, until scientific evidence is found showing any danger, the best dermatologists still support the use of sunscreen with these ingredients.
Know Yourself, Know your surroundings and environment, and be a pro when it comes to protecting yourself and your family from ultraviolet light. We hope you have a safe and fun summer!
Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands | Best Dermatologist Omaha & Council Bluffs, IA | Board Certified Dermatologists
We hope to host an open house and free skin cancer screening at this clinic sometime in the fall, once social distancing and other COVID-19 safety measures are appropriately relaxed. In the meantime, for your convenience and availability please consider seeing us at this new clinical location in Omaha. Call us at (402) 933-3770 for more information or contact us to schedule a consultation.