Most people think of fireworks when they think of the 4th of July. And fortunately, enjoying this star-lit nighttime activity will not likely put you at risk for sun damage. However, some of the other popular summer holiday activities like camping, grilling out, and swimming can be more dangerous. At U.S. Dermatology Partners affiliate office Trinity Dermatology Carrollton, Dr. Lisa Pruett and her team want patients to have fun and protect their skin while celebrating Independence Day in the great outdoors. Keep reading as we break down the top skin care and sun safety tips for summer.
Top Tips for Sun Safety this Summer
Before you head out for your July 4th picnic or a day of family fun at the beach, take a few minutes to review these sun safety tips:
- Wear sunscreen – We will not stop repeating this important tip! Adequately applied, a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher is the best and easiest way to keep your skin safe from the sun’s damaging rays.
- Reapply sunscreen – At least every two hours, you need to reapply your sunscreen. You should wait for about ten to fifteen minutes to allow the sunscreen to be fully absorbed before getting in the water.
- Limit peak exposure time – You’ll receive the most direct sun exposure from 10 am to 4 pm, so take regular breaks in the shade during these hours.
- Protect your eyes – Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from sun damage that has been linked to vision problems, cataracts, and several forms of cancer, including intraocular melanoma.
- Don’t forget your head – Wear hats and apply sunscreen to balding areas or large parts in the hair that reveal the scalp. This is one of the most overlooked areas where sunburn occurs.
- Gear up – Light layers of protective clothing can block out UV rays and keep your skin safe in the sun.
Sun Safety Tips: What if it’s not Sunny Outside?
According to Dr. Pruett, it’s a common misconception that you don’t need sunscreen on overcast days. This is simply not true. As Dr. Pruett puts it, “Of course, you are going to think about sunscreen on a sunny day, but 80% of the UV radiation from the sun still reaches our skin on cloudy days!” Make sure you’re using your broad-spectrum sunscreen even if it’s cloudy.
Sun Safety Tips: Make Sunscreen Part of Your Daily Routine
Sunscreen shouldn’t just be used on 4th of July or beach days. Instead, Dr. Pruett recommends, “Consider applying sunscreen as a daily preventative habit, just like brushing your teeth. Except, in this case, you are helping yourself prevent skin cancers and slowing down the aging process instead of preventing dental disease and keeping your smile beautiful.”
Even if you are spending most of your time indoors during the summer, sunscreen can help protect your skin. Researchers are finding that high energy visible light (HEV or blue light) from our digital screens and overhead fluorescent and LED lights may be harming the skin as well. Blue light can actually penetrate deeper into our skin than UVA and UVB light rays and may be more active in causing hyperpigmentation than UV radiation. There is no evidence at this time that HEV light causes skin cancer, but we do know that it may accelerate aging, so sunscreen is a must indoors as well as outdoors.
Sun Safety Tips: Dermatologist Sunscreen Recommendations
Depending on your skin type and dermatological history, a dermatologist can help you find the best sunscreen to protect against UV rays while providing optimal benefit to your skin. Plus, there are a lot of new options like powdered and tinted sunscreens, so it may be worthwhile to sit down with your dermatologist to go over your new options, especially if you have sensitive skin or are very prone to sunburn. Dr. Pruett says for daily use she often recommends, “Sunscreens that are tinted (with iron oxide) work well to block HEV light and these are great options for every day because they can be incorporated into your makeup routine as a tinted moisturizer. Products like EltaMD UV Elements and Colorescience Sunfortettable Total Protection Face Shield SPF 50 are great options for daily use.” One of Dr. Pruett’s new favorites for all-day wear is, “Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50 because it allows for easy reapplication throughout the day.”
Tips for Soothing Sunburns
If despite your best efforts you still end up with a sunburn, you should be able to care for your skin at home as it heals. But if you have large blisters, notice areas of skin that look inflamed or infected, or have very severe burns covering large areas of the skin, you may want to visit your dermatologist. While your sunburn heals, you can take the following steps to improve your comfort:
- Take pain medications – Over the counter pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen can significantly relieve pain from sunburn.
- Keep skin cool – Use cold compresses (wet cloths, ice packs) to cool the skin off. You can also soak in a cool bath.
- Keep skin moisturized – Sunburns strip moisture from the skin, so replacing the lost moisture can help your skin heal more quickly. Aloe vera gels, calamine lotions, and other hypoallergenic moisturizing creams and lotions can provide relief. You may even want to use a hydrocortisone cream to relieve pain and restore moisture.
- Stay hydrated – Applying moisturizers topically is important but staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is also essential to ensure a speedy recovery from your sunburn.
- Leave blisters alone – Don’t pick at blistered areas. Keep your skin clean and moisturized and allow blisters to heal. If you notice signs of infection, contact a doctor.
- Don’t exfoliate – It can be tempting to get rid of all the peeling, flaking skin as soon as possible, but this can lead to unnecessary irritation as your sunburn heals. Instead of scrubbing away peeling skin, care for your skin by gently cleaning it and applying moisturizer.
- Avoid further sun exposure – If at all possible, stay inside while your sunburn heals. If you need to be outside, cover up burned areas with clothing or hats. You should also apply ample amounts of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Work with U.S. Dermatology Partners
The professionals at U.S. Dermatology Partners are always here to help. Whether you need tips to prevent sunburn or treatment to repair years of sun damage, our qualified dermatologists can help you keep your skin healthy and beautiful. If you live in the Carrollton or greater DFW Metroplex, Dr. Pruett and her team at Trinity Dermatology Carrollton would love to see you. Not in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metro? We have offices across the state of Texas and nationwide. Simply fill out our online appointment request form, and a U.S. Dermatology Partners office near you will be in touch to answer your questions or schedule an appointment time.
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