With the coming of summer, we like to focus on
ways to care for our skin in the warmer weather. If you are going to be
in the sun for more than a few minutes, it is best to apply a good sunscreen.
There is a lot of hype about sunscreen, so here are a few simple suggestions:
Use a sunscreen that protects against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet
B (UVB). The protection wears off rather quickly, so it is best to re-apply
it every two hours.
Apply your sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going
outside. This time is needed for the active ingredients to bond with your
skin. If you are going to be physically active or swimming, we recommend
a water-proof sunscreen. Even waterproof sunscreens are best re-applied
every few hours and after swimming.
If you are wearing shorts or a bathing
suit, remember that at least one full ounce of sunscreen is needed to
cover your body appropriately (if you are tall, please apply more!)
do not need to be expensive. A store brand is fine as long as it meets
the above criteria. If you are concerned about clogging your pores, there
are now many oil-free products on the market. For your convenience, the
Elta brand of facial and full-body sunscreens is available in our office.
Use an SPF of 30 or higher. The SPF number is determined in a laboratory;
the actual SPF when applied on a person’s skin may be much less.
If you are outside for many hours some burning rays will get through,
no matter how carefully you apply a sunscreen, and no matter how high
the SPF. Be sure to re-apply your sunscreen every few hours, and try
to minimize sun exposure between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun is
If you have thinning scalp hair, don’t forget to protect yourself.
There are spray sunscreens available, and of course a fun hat will always
PLEASE avoid tanning booths and salons. Too many people
are accidentally sunburned. Artificial tans are fine, but remember that
they do not provide any increased protection from the sun.
Use of sunscreen
in babies is controversial. Rather than using sunscreen, we recommend
keeping babies in the shade or otherwise well-covered. Sunscreen may be
used on children over the age of six months, but sun avoidance is still
the simplest approach.
Teenagers may be a hard sell, but a simple explanation
of the consequences may help. Explain that over-exposure at the beginning
of a vacation may cause a painful sunburn, making the remaining days much
There are now several brands of sun-protective clothing
available, both in stores and online.
Remember: Sunscreen is necessary
for all skin types, from fair to dark.
Poison ivy and other rashes
rashes usually appear about 24-48 hours after exposure. In many cases,
the rash does not actually “spread” around the body. It simply
shows up first in those areas where the greatest amount of plant oil was
deposited, or where the skin is thinnest. Please call us if you are having
a problem;, as early treatment with prescription medications may prevent
a rash from becoming more severe. (Unlike what we saw on “Seinfeld,” dermatologists
do not treat all rashes with aloe!)
Stay away from plants with “leaves
of three.” If you think you or your pet has been exposed, wash all
skin surfaces and clothing. Remember that the plant oils can remain on
unwashed clothing or shoes for many months, and cause a rash when they
are next touched. Use of creams such as “Ivy Block,” available
at most pharmacies without prescription, may prevent poison ivy.