Summer health – skin care for fun in the sun

Tips on protecting your skin as the months heat up
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Summer’s almost here! While you might be planning your beach vacations, camping trips, and weekend BBQs, one thing might fall to the bottom of the to-do list: taking care of your skin. As the body’s largest organ, your skin protects you from infection and disease, regulates body temperature, releases wastes, and prevents dehydration.

Your skin is constantly making new cells – with new skin cells turning over every 26 days. So, it’s important to take consistent care of this vital organ. Below you’ll discover some tips to keep your skin fresh and healthy throughout the summer.

Protect yourself from the sun

While some sun exposure is healthy for producing vitamin D, a little goes a long way. In fact, it only takes 15 minutes of exposure before UV rays can start to damage skin – increasing risk of sun cancer. To help keep skin healthy, everyone – regardless of race or ethnicity – can benefit from the 3 S’s: sunscreen, shade, and shirts.

Sunscreen is an easy way to make sure you’re protected from the sun no matter where you are. The American Academy of Dermatology Association suggests choosing one that is SPF 30 or higher. Broad spectrum sunscreens protect against UVA and UVB rays, reducing risk of skin cancer. And water-resistant brands are more likely to stay in place, even as you sweat – though it’s best to reapply every 40 to 80 minutes if you get wet or sweaty. And be sure to slather it on! Most adults will need about 1 ounce of sunscreen – enough to fill a shot glass – to cover their entire body. 

Shade is one of the best ways to help keep you protected from the sun while enjoying the great outdoors. If you’re having a picnic, choose a shady spot under a tree. If you’re hosting a BBQ, enjoy your meal under an awning or hanging tarp. Or, if you’re at the beach, set up an umbrella to keep you shady and cool.

Shirts and other clothing are another great way to help keep your skin healthy. Shirts, shorts, skirts, shoes, pants, and hats – all of these keep you protected when you are exposed to sun. Keep in mind that darker colors and dry, tightly woven fabrics will do a much better job of blocking UV rays than light-colored, wet, and thin fabrics. And don’t forget your sunglasses! They will help prevent cataracts and protect the thin, delicate skin around the eye. Look for sunglasses and clothing that offer UVA and UVB protection.

Keep your skin clean and nourished

Just like you brush your teeth every day, daily skin care is important to keeping your face and body clean and healthy. Depending on your skin type, you might want to purchase products – like washes or moisturizers – that will best help your skin.

  • Dry skin – Often itchy, red, or flaky. Can be prone to conditions like eczema. Look for moisturizing products. Use warm (not hot) water for washing.
  • Oily skin – Prone to acne or breakouts. Look for oil-free or noncomedogenic (does not clog pores) skin products. Use gentle cleansers. Avoid touching your face during the day.
  • Combination skin – A mix of dry skin (usually around the cheeks) and oily, often in the “T-zone” (forehead, nose, chin). Look for products that will cleanse, moisturize, and protect your skin without irritation or clogging pores.

No matter your skin type, it’s usually a good idea to use a gentle cleanser, warm (not hot) water, a moisturizer that works with your skin type, and an SPF 30 sunscreen – which is often found in many daily moisturizers. You may want to talk to a board-certified dermatologist before changing your skin care routine.

Also, just like good nutrition nourishes your body, so can healthy eating nourish your skin. There is still limited research on which foods are best for healthy skin. But certain foods, especially those high in antioxidants, do appear to be somewhat protective. These include:

  • Carrots, apricots, and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables
  • Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Berries
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Salmon, mackerel, and other fatty fish
  • Nuts

Additionally, avoid highly processed foods or those with refined sugar, as they may not be good for the health of your skin.

Self-screen for skin cancer or schedule a screening with a dermatologist

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer – and it’s the most preventable. More than 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. Skin screenings are key to catching skin cancer early – when it’s easiest to treat.

Your primary doctor may request a screening if:

  • You or a relative have a history of skin cancer
  • You have a weakened immune system

You can also perform a self-exam at home to look for any unusual blemishes. You may want to see a dermatologist if you find any moles that are:

  • Asymmetrical
  • Have a ragged or jagged border
  • Are uneven in color
  • Are larger than the size of a pea
  • Have changed in size, shape, or color over time
  • Ooze or bleed or are painful to the touch

You might also want to schedule a screening with a dermatologist if you:

  • Are frequently exposed to the sun due to work or leisure activities
  • Have a large number of moles
  • Use a tanning bed or have in the past
  • Have freckles, fair hair or skin, or skin that burns easily

Keep in mind that even though people with darker skin are less likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer, prognosis is worse when it is discovered. So those in low-risk groups should still self-screen for skin cancer. 

Using sunscreen, shade, and clothing can help reduce your risk of skin cancer and sun damage. Good hygiene and a healthy diet can keep your skin looking and feeling healthy. And a skin screening is an easy tool to help catch skin cancer early. Following these simple guidelines will ensure that you (and your skin) will be made in the shade – all summer long.

Protecting your skin is crucial for your overall health and well-being. Ready to schedule a skin screening?

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