Tips to prevent against sun damage

By Erin Manoles, PA-C

As dermatology clinicians, we talk a lot about sunscreen – for good reason! It’s a necessity to protect your skin from sunburn, visible skin aging, and skin cancers. But we should never forget that sunscreen is not the one and only thing! Here are some tips to ensure you are doing the most to protect your skin from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

1. Be in the right place at the right time

Avoid midday sun! The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 AM and 2 PM. Don’t have a watch? If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade. Also be extra careful near water, snow, and sand, as these reflect the rays of the sun and increase your risk of sunburn. If shade is impossible to find, reapply sunscreen liberally on a 1-2 hour basis.

2. Dress for success

A dermatologist’s dream outfit: a lightweight long sleeve shirt, pants, a broad brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Cover up that precious skin with style! And, lucky us, in this day and age there’s now a whole category of sun protective clothing. The fabric of sun protective clothing is given a lab-tested rating for its level of UV protection (ultraviolet protection factor = UPF).

A rating of UPF of 40 or higher is considered the most protective, blocking 97.5-98% of UV radiation. And when it comes to hats, a broad brim is your friend- even more so than a baseball cap or visor which can fail to cover up the often-forgotten tops of the ears. Examples of UPF clothing and hats can be found here.

3. Supplement well

3. You’ve heard people say that they’re “just getting their vitamin D” as they stroll out into the blazing sunshine. Well, turns out you don’t have to roast your skin to get a healthy amount of vitamin D! Instead, consider adding in more vitamin-D rich foods into your healthy diet, like salmon, canned tuna, and certain milks, orange juices, yogurts, and cereals with added vitamin D. Your primary care clinician may also recommend a vitamin D supplement if you are deficient based on testing.

Another dietary supplement that can be very beneficial for sun protection is Heliocare. These vegan capsules are packed with a powerful antioxidant formula derived from the Polypodium leucotomos fern that helps the skin protect itself against the aging effects of free radicals from sun damage. Taking 2 of these capsules first thing every morning can help you get a head start on skin protection throughout the day!

Contact North Metro Dermatology

With these measures and a high quality sunscreen, you’ve got a winning combo. We are always happy to field any questions you may have about how to best protect your skin during either an in-person or online visit. You may also reach out by calling (651) 789-9800.

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