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Defend skin from sun damage

Avoid exposure to UV rays during hot, summer months

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Posted: Monday, June 4, 2012 12:00 pm

Avoid exposure to UV rays during hot, summer months

By Rose L. Thayer

Killeen Daily Herald

With area pools, lakes and recreation facilities open for business, summer is in full swing.

While soaking up the sun is a must for many people, all those rays can be harsh on the skin if proper precautions aren't taken.

And it's more than just sunburn that's a cause for concern, said Dr. Lance Davis, chief resident in the department of dermatology at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple. Sun damage will cause photoaging, wrinkling of the skin, loss of skin structure and function and can lead to precancerous lesions and skin cancer, including melanoma.

"There are two important strategies in skin care: No. 1 is sun avoidance, and the second is protection," said Davis. "The best thing people can do is try to avoid the sun during peak sun hours, (between) 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The remainder of the time, adequate sun protection will allow you to get out and enjoy the sun and minimize the amount of damage ... to your skin."

To avoid the sun during long days outdoors, look for shade or wear protective clothing and UV-protected sunglasses.

Davis suggests using a full-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays with at least SPF 50 to cover all exposed skin - that should take about 1.5 ounces.

"(SPF 50) is what we have found to be the most effective in protecting people against the harmful UV rays," he said. "It still requires reapplication, but it provides the highest level of protection."

To remain protected, sunscreen should be reapplied every two to three hours or after getting wet. Davis said either spray or traditional lotion sunscreen is fine, but that the spray is often easier to use.

"It's great for getting in and out of the pool and increases the compliance also," he said.

For everyday protection, Anna D. Rinehart, medical aesthetics coordinator at Metroplex Hospital who teaches mother-daughter classes on skin care and protection, said she recommends a moisturizer with SPF in it.

"For day-to-day, that's where the SPF 15 is good," she said. "Even though you're getting incidental sun exposure, you're still getting the damage. I tell the young girls to get the moisturizer-tint-sunscreen combination. That way they feel extra protected and they are not putting on three different products."

Davis said the face is where most instances of skin cancer occur, so protecting it daily is important.

By the end of the day, the layers of products, plus sweat, Rinehart said, can cause a cakey buildup on the skin, so washing the face also is important. "Even if you don't see it with the naked eye, doesn't mean it can't be observed through an assessment," she said. "When you are still young and beautiful and healthy, it's hard to believe your skin can get older faster."

If a sunburn does occur, Davis recommended treating it with cooling agents such as aloe vera or menthol-containing products. "If a really bad sunburn has occurred, I recommend seeing a primary care doctor or dermatologist who can provide topical preparation to help the recovery."

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

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