Summer is right around the corner, which means spending more time soaking up the sun. While sunlight can provide us with vitamin D, overexposure can cause irreversible skin damage and increase your chances of developing skin cancer. That’s why it’s so important to take proactive measures to protect your skin on a daily basis.
Even moderate exposure to the sun and its ultraviolet rays can cause damage to your skin. Both UVA and UVB rays are harmful: they can cause your age to age prematurely through the development of wrinkles, brown spots, and loss of skin tone. Sunburns or repeated sun exposure can lead to the development of skin cancers.
Wearing sunscreen is your first line of protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays, since it is possible for both to penetrate protective clothing or hats. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF factor of 30 or greater and re-apply it if you are out in the sun for a long time or you go swimming. Don’t overlook areas like your ears and toes.
Laying out in the sun for a long period of time is never a good idea, even if you’re wearing sunscreen. Instead, find a spot in the shade, under a tree, or beach umbrella. Since the UV rays can still get through, you’ll still want to apply sunscreen. Also, consider covering your face and body with protective clothing.
Keep It Clean
Sweat, dirt, and pollution can clog pores and allow bacteria to grow on your skin. Regular bathing and personal hygiene can prevent the pimples, boils, fungal infections that can develop on any part of your body. However, most people focus their energies on cleansing their faces.
Both women and men should develop a regular routine of washing, exfoliating, and moisturizing their faces. Use a cleanser that is compatible with your skin type (dry, oily, or normal). Washing with warm water will open your pores. Exfoliate gently; too much abrasion can cause irritation. Then rinse with cool water and pat dry.
Being out in the sun more or taking frequent dips in the pool can lead to dry skin. Your face, arms, and legs are more susceptible to dryness, and the problem increases as you age. Using lotions or other moisturizers can help the symptoms. Look for lotions made with glycerin, lanolin, or shea butter.
The best time to apply moisturizers is immediately after showering or washing. Moisturizers work by trapping the skin’s natural moisture and preventing evaporation. They also add a layer of protection against the elements. For double protection, find a moisturizer combined with sunscreen.
Your best skin moisturizer comes from within, and drinking plenty of water can aid with that. A well-hydrated body translates into well-hydrated skin. Water helps maintain your skin’s plumpness and elasticity, thus reducing the appearance of wrinkles and lines. It also flushes toxins from your system and helps your skin maintain a healthy pH balance.
It’s a myth that everyone should drink 8 glasses of water each day. Each person’s optimal water intake depends on factors such as lifestyle, health conditions, and activity level. A good rule of thumb in determining whether you are getting enough water is to watch the color of your urine. It should be light yellow or almost clear. If it’s too dark, you need to drink more.
Know Your Allergies
Skin rashes and irritations can be caused by allergies to foods, substances, or environmental factors. Commonly, people develop contact dermatitis when something they are allergic to touches their skin. Often, it’s easy to identify the source. For example, if you develop a rash after putting sunscreen on, it’s possible the ingredients are the culprit.
Other times, it’s harder to know what allergen triggers your dermatitis. A dermatologist or allergist may help you identify what you are allergic to.
Check Your Skin Often
It’s important to perform self-exams every month or so. Tell your dermatologist if you notice any new spots or moles, changes to existing moles, or anything else that looks suspicious
You can keep your skin healthy and looking great throughout your lifetime, but you do have to protect it. Most importantly, get to know yourself and what strategies work for your skin. And, see a dermatologist promptly if you develop a problem or at least once yearly for a checkup.
If you live in Utah County, click here to make an appointment with the dermatologists at Premier Family Medicine.