Summertime Tips to Keep the Sun from Wreaking Havoc on Your Skin

Warm weather is finally here, and after a winter of gray, cold days, what could be more appealing than spending all your spare time basking in the warm, golden rays of the bright summer sun? It sounds nice — but of course, there’s a catch: All that golden warmth comes at a big cost to your skin. And if you spend too much time soaking up those rays, you could wind up with problems like excessive dryness, wrinkles, and even skin cancer. Plus, if you already have a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, too much sun exposure could make your symptoms a lot worse. But before you retreat to the great indoors, take heart: You can still enjoy your summer fun — all you have to do is take a few simple precautions, like these seven tips.

Don’t skimp on sunscreen

We all know we should use sunscreen — but plenty of us “forget” or just don’t make the time to put it on every day before heading out. It’s important to wear sunscreen all year long, but because we tend to spend more time outside during warm weather, it’s especially critical in the summer. And it’s also important to wear the right amount — generally, about an ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) to cover the exposed areas of your body. If you’re in a particularly skimpy swimsuit, you’re probably going to need more. Make sure the sunscreen has an SPF of at least 30, and reapply it throughout the day, especially after you swim or if you've perspired a lot.

Use clothing to protect your skin

Sunscreen is good, but it doesn’t hurt to add an extra layer of protection, especially if you’re going to be spending a lot of time outdoors or if you won’t be able to reapply sunscreen throughout the day. A lightweight shirt and pants can prevent excess sun exposure, reducing your risks for dangerous sunburns and also preventing your skin from becoming overly dry and irritated.

Wear a hat

Your scalp can get sunburned too, and you can also develop skin cancer on your scalp. For the best protection, choose a hat with a wide brim that keeps the sun off your face, neck, and ears, as well as your scalp. Avoid hats with an open weave, since these can let in a surprising amount of sun.

Avoid “peak UV” hours

The sun’s UV rays are at their strongest during the middle part of the day, generally between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you can, try to avoid being out in the direct sunshine during those hours. If you must be outdoors, try to stay in the shade as much as possible.

Be aware of medication interactions

Some medicines, supplements, and skin care products can make your skin more prone to sun damage. That includes products like retinols that contain a high amount of vitamin A. Some common antibiotics, certain antidepressant medications, and some drugs used to treat cancer and diabetes can make your skin extra sensitive to the sun’s UV rays. If you take any type of medicine or supplement or use a prescription skin product, be sure to ask the doctor about its potential interaction with the sun.

Stock up on moisturizer

Sunburn isn’t the only summertime “threat” to your skin. The sun’s rays can also be very drying, and indoors, air conditioning reduces ambient humidity, making your skin extra dry. To prevent irritation, be sure to use moisturizer every day during the summer. Look for a lightweight product that won’t wind up feeling sticky on your skin.

Rinse after swimming

Chlorine and other harsh chemicals can dry out your skin, and some lakes and other natural bodies of water contain irritating pollutants. Rinsing off briefly after a dip helps remove impurities that can wind up causing rashes or other problems, and it’ll help keep chemicals and pollutants from drying out your hair, too.

Schedule an annual skin check

At Cleveland Family Health, we want all our patients to enjoy the summer sunshine — and we want them to do it safely. Scheduling an annual skin check is an important part of screening for skin cancer and other problems in their earliest stages. Skin cancer screenings take just a few minutes, but the benefits they provide can last a lifetime. To schedule your skin cancer screening or to find out about other ways you can care for your skin, book an appointment online today.

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