By Connie Colbert
GCU Director of Health Services
Summer is a time for beach days, pool parties and vacations. It is also a great time to look at our skin care. As we head into the summer season, here are a few tips to help keep your skin healthy:
Who needs sunscreen?
Everyone. Sunscreen can help prevent cancer by protecting you from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of age, gender or race. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop some sort of skin cancer in their lifetime.
When should I use sunscreen?
Every day, if you will be outside. The sun emits rays year-round. Even cloudy days are harmful. Also, remember that sand, and water increase the need for sunscreen because they reflect the sun’s rays.
How much sunscreen should I use, and how often should I reapply it?
Use enough to coat all exposed skin. Don’t forget your ears, neck, face, hands and arms.
Apply to dry skin 15 minutes BEFORE going outdoors.
Skin cancer also can form on the lips. Apply lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating, according to the directions on the bottle.
What type of sunscreen should I use?
The best type of sunscreen is the one you will use again. The most important factor is that it offers broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, has an SPF of 30 or higher and is water resistant.
A few guidelines:
- Creams are best for dry skin and the face.
- Gels are good for hairy areas, such as the scalp or male chest.
- Sticks are good to use around the eyes.
- Sprays are often preferred by parents since they are easy to apply.
- There also are more specialized products for sensitive skin and babies.
Regardless of what product you choose, be sure to apply generously for the UV protection indicated on the label.
Will using sunscreen limit the amount of Vitamin D I get?
Sunscreen may decease your skin’s production of Vitamin D. If you are concerned about not getting enough Vitamin D, you should explore your options for getting Vitamin D from other sources.
What if I get a sunburn?
It is important to treat sunburn as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your skin.
- Take a cool bath to reduce heat.
- Moisturizer to help the discomfort caused by dryness. Apply after you get out of the shower and/or bath. Gently pat your skin dry, but leave a little moisture. Apply moisturizer to keep the water in your skin.
- Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream can help the pain and discomfort.
- Drink extra water. Sunburn pulls fluid to the skin and away from the rest of the body. Drinking water can prevent dehydration.
- Do not treat burns with “-caine,” such as benzocaine.
If your skin blisters:
- Allow the blisters to heal without popping them.
- If the blisters cover a large area or you have chills, headache or a fever, seek medical care as soon as possible.
- Avoid further sun exposure until your skin heals.
Morning and evening
AVOID HOT WATER
This further dries out your skin.
COVER YOUR SKIN
Besides wearing sunscreen, cover parts of your body and face exposed to the sun. Wear a hat with a wide brim, large sunglasses and clothes that cover your body completely. Also, opt for thick fabrics to block the sun’s rays and bright colors to deflect sunlight.
Hydration is the key during the summer. You can use a hydrating mask after you wash your face at night for some extra hydration while you sleep. Splash your face frequently with water or carry a facial mist to freshen your skin at regular intervals.
And most of all, drink water. That means a minimum of 2-3 liters a day in the summer. Coconut water, watermelon and fresh juices are a good way to stay hydrated. Drinking water also helps to flush the toxins from the body.
And stay away from sugary drinks! They can make you feel sluggish and have no hydrating qualities.