Jay L. Cohen, MD -  Dermatology

Summer Skin Care Tips

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!)

Sunscreens 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 strongest.

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 be effective.

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 less enjoyable.

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

These 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.




© 2003 - Jay L. Cohen, MD, PC
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Needham, MA 02494
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