Every spring offers us the chance to thaw out from the chilly winter weather and to start making plans for summer activities. Whether you are biking, hiking, or walking, the warmer seasons offer limitless things to do outdoors. But while we’ve all been indoors for many months, our skin is no longer used to anything other than minimal sun exposure.
Our team at Easton Dermatology Associates in Easton and Salisbury, Maryland, wants to help you re-enter the sun safely, so we’ve compiled a few tips to protect your skin this summer.
Why protect your skin from the sun?
Having sunlight in your life helps your body generate vitamin D and keeps your mood sunny. However, too much sun can quickly damage your skin. Here are just a few of the problems caused by the sun’s harsh UV rays:
As the ultraviolet rays penetrate the layers of your skin, they can damage or even kill the cells below, leading to the skin conditions we mentioned above. To prevent these issues, you can protect your skin by following these tips.
Know your sunscreen — and use it correctly
Sunscreen tops our list of sun protection tips because it's the best way to shield your exposed skin. But not all sunscreens are the same. To ensure you have full protection:
- Use a sunscreen labeled broad-spectrum
- Look for SPF 30-50
- Apply it on every inch of exposed skin
- Reapply it every two hours
- Don’t trust the “waterproof” claim; reapply after getting wet or sweating
It’s also important to check the expiration date. If you’re using last year’s bottle of sunscreen, and it's past its prime, it is no longer effective protection.
When you head outdoors this summer, take a minute to locate the shady spots where you can take a break from the direct sun. Trees, awnings, and overhangs can give you a much needed reprieve and allow you to stay outdoors longer.
If there are no structures around to offer you shade, provide your own. Umbrellas and hats offer portable shade on the go as do the portable pop up canopies and beach tents.
Watch the clock
You can protect your skin from burning by avoiding the parts of the day when the sun is the most intense — the time when it sits highest in the sky.
We recommend doing your gardening, walking your dog, and enjoying a picnic before 10am or after 3pm. The time in between is the hottest part of the day and the time when your skin is at the highest risk for damage.
Protect your lips and eyes
The tissues in your eyes and lips are different from the rest of your skin and are even more vulnerable to sun damage.
Wear a lip balm with sun protection, and use sunglasses that block out UV rays to keep these delicate tissues safe.
Know how to spot signs of sun damage
It’s almost impossible to get through life without some degree of sun damage, no matter how diligent you are about protection. But if you’re careful, you can minimize and in most cases, undo the damage.
It’s important to learn the signs of sun damage so treatment isn’t delayed and progression is stopped. Here’s what to watch for:
- Sunburned skin
- Dark spots
- Excessive freckling
- Actinic keratosis (scaly, rough patches of skin)
- Actinic cheilitis (scaly, dry, cracked lips)
- Atypical and changing moles
- Wrinkled skin
In addition to premature aging, sun damage can lead to skin cancer. Although some types of skin cancer can be aggressive and even fatal, they are all highly treatable if caught early. The best way to catch it early is to get regular skin cancer screenings . Here at Easton Dermatology Associates, we check your skin from the top of your scalp to the tips of your toes to detect early signs of problematic tissue.
If you develop skin cancer, our specialists offer the most advanced treatments, including Mohs surgery, the least invasive, most effective surgical approach.
To keep your skin healthy this summer and beyond, follow these tips and come see us for a complete skin analysis that could save your life. Schedule an appointment at either location today by calling 410-819-8867.