Friday, June 12, 2015

Sun Safety - Part 2

Look for a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to prevent sunburn and tanning, both of which are signs of skin damage. Also, choose a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays (usually labeled as a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen).
Other things to consider:
·         Sunscreen sprays are convenient but should be used with caution, because they are easily inhaled, which can irritate the lungs, and some are flammable. Also, sprays make it hard to tell if you have applied enough sunscreen, which increases the risk of sunburn.
·         Don’t use sunscreens with PABA, which can cause skin allergies.
·         For sensitive skin, look for products with the active ingredient titanium dioxide.
·         If you want to use a self-tanner sunscreen, be sure to get one that also has UV protection
For sunscreen to do its job, it must be applied correctly. So be sure to:
·         Apply sunscreen whenever you will be in the sun. For best results, apply it about 15 to 30 minutes before going outside.
·         Don’t forget about ears, hands, feet, shoulders, and behind the neck. Left up bathing suit straps and apply sunscreen underneath them. Protect lips with and SPF 30 lip balm.
·         Apply sunscreen generously – dermatologists recommend using 1 ounce to cover the exposed areas of the body.
·         Reapply sunscreen often, about every 2 hours. Reapply after sweating or swimming.
·         Apply a water-resistant sunscreen if you will be around water or swimming.  Water reflects and intensifies the sun’s rays, so you need protection that lasts. Water-resistant sunscreens may last up to 80 minutes in the water, and some are also sweat-resistant. But regardless of the water-resistant label, be sure to reapply sunscreen.
·         Don’t worry about making a bottle of sunscreen last. Stock up, and throw out any sunscreen that is past its expiration date that you have had for 3 years or longer.
Exposure from the sun, not only damages skin, but can damage eyes as well. One day in the sun can result in a burned cornea and cumulative exposure can lead to cataracts later in life. The best way to protect eyes is to wear sunglasses. Purchase sunglasses with labels that ensure 100% UV protection.
Double-check your medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can increase sun sensitivity (this is common with antibiotics and acne medications). Take extra precautions if taking medications that increase sun sensitivity. Even sunscreen can’t always protect skin from sun sensitivity caused by medications.
Sunburn can sneak up on you, especially after a long day at the beach or park. Often, everything seems fine during the day but then you gradually develop an “after-burn” later that evening that can be painful and hot and even make you feel sick.
When sunburned, you usually experience pain and a heat sensation – symptoms that tend to get worse several hours after sun exposure. You may also get chills. Because the sun has dried the skin, it can become itchy and tight. Sunburned skin begins to peel about after a week after the sunburn. Do not scratch or peel off loose skin because skin underneath the sunburn is vulnerable to infection.
If you get sunburn, these tips may help:
·         Take a cool (not cold) bath, or gently apply cool, wet compresses to the skin to help alleviate pain and heat.
·         Ease discomfort by applying pure aloe vera gel to any sunburned areas.
·         Take an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen or use acetaminophen to ease the main and itching. Over-the-counter diphenhydramine also may help reduce itching and swelling.
·         Apply topical moisturizing cream to rehydrate the skin and treat itching. For the more seriously sunburned areas, apply a thin layer of 1% hydrocortisone cream to help with pain. (Do not use petroleum-based products, because they prevent excess heat and sweat from escaping. Also, avoid first-aid products that contain benzocaine, which may cause skin irritation allergy.)

If the sunburn is severe and blisters develop, contact your doctor. Do not scratch, pop, or squeeze the blisters, because they can get infected and can cause scarring. Stay out of the sun until the sunburn is healed, because any further exposure to the sun will make the burn worse and increase pain.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Fun in the Sun Safety - Part 1

School is out for the summer! It may not yet officially be summer until June 21st, but here in West Texas our summer begins the last day of school. Families go on vacation to the beach, kids and adults alike lay out by the pool and swim all day. Instead of being in a classroom all day, many kids are outside playing, riding their bikes and playing in the water.
Sunlight is not “equal” in UV concentration. The intensity of the sun’s rays depends upon the time of year, as well as the altitude and latitude of your location. Here in the Northern Hemisphere the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are at their strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and are strongest during the summer season. Cloudy, cool, and overcast days may give a false sense of protection, because UV rays travel through the clouds and reflect off sand, water, snow and even concrete causing individuals to receive unexpected sunburn and skin damage. People are often unaware they are developing a sunburn on cooler or windy days because the temperature or breeze keeps the skin feeling cool on the surface.
UV rays can cause skin damage, eye damage, immune system suppression, and skin cancer. Most kids get most of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18, so it is important to be well aware of sun safety and by taking the right precautions, you can greatly reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
Melanin is the body’s first line of defense against the sun because it absorbs dangerous UV rays before they do serious damage. Melanin is found in different concentrations and colors, resulting in different skin colors. The lighter someone’s natural skin color, the less melanin it has to absorb UV rays and protect itself.
The skins melanin will increase in response to sun exposure causing the skin to tan, but even a “healthy” tan could be a sign of sun damage. The risk of damage increases with the amount and intensity of exposure. Sunburn develops when the amount of UV exposure is greater than what can be protected against by the skin’s melanin.
Kids who have moles on their skin (or whose parents have a tendency to develop moles), have very fair skin and hair, and have a family history of skin cancer, including melanoma are at a higher risk if they have one or more of these high-risk factors.
By following some sun safety “rules”, kids and adults alike can enjoy a day in the sun. Avoid the strongest rays of the day. Remember we mentioned earlier that the strongest rays tend to be at their apex between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Cover up! One of the best ways to prevent damage to your skin is to cover up and shield skin from UV rays. You can be sure that clothes will screen out harmful UV rays by placing your hand inside the garment and making sure you can’t see it through them.
Because infants have thinner skin and underdeveloped melanin, their skin burns more easily. The best protection for babies under 6 months of age is shade.
Even older kids need to escape the sun. Bring along a wide umbrella or pop-up tent for all-day outdoor affairs. If it is not too hot outside and won’t make the kids uncomfortable, have them wear light long-sleeved shirts and/or long pants.

Use sunscreen constantly. Choosing a sunscreen can be tricky with the wide array of options available, but what matters most is the degree of protection it provides from UV rays.