Skin Care Beyond Sunscreen
No doubt about it: Choosing a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays is critical for skin care during the sunny months of summer. But what happens when the sun (or simply aging!) gets the best of you in spite of your best efforts?
“It does not take years for the signs of aging to show up after a sunburn. Freckles, spots, little lines, and broken blood vessels can appear within weeks,” said David Larson, MD, skin care expert at Wauwatosa's Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin Plastic Surgery Center. “A host of options exist for repairing unintentional damage to the skin, whether caused by overexposure to the sun or other factors, and maintaining a healthy glow year round.”
Redness, warmth and pain caused by sunburn can be treated by many over-the-counter options. Some over-the-counter products contain aloe, zinc or mineral oil. Those that contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or octocrylene give the best wide spectrum coverage. All of these products when applied on a regular basis will provide moisture to aid healing and help keep the affected area cool.
Treatments for more comprehensive skin care are available only at a plastic surgeon’s or dermatologist’s office. These treatments, including microdermabrasion, facials and clinical peels, dermal filler injections and more are designed to renew and rejuvenate the skin on the face and body.
According to Dr. Larson, just five sunburns can boost your chances of developing a skin cancer, including melanoma. “Skin cancer is preventable and early detection is key,” Larson said. “Use sunscreen year-around to protect your skin.”
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends regular self-skin examinations as well as an annual visit to a dermatologist for a skin cancer screening, and offers these tips for healthy fun in the sun.
• Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more to all exposed skin. “Broad-spectrum” provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
• Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, where possible.
• Remember that the sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your shadow appears to be shorter than you are, seek shade.
• Protect children from sun exposure. Be sure to play in the shade, use protective clothing, and apply sunscreen.
• Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand because they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.
• Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements. Don't seek the sun.
• Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look like you've been in the sun, consider using a sunless self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
• Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.
Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin combine the strengths of Froedtert Hospital and The Medical College in an academic medical center that delivers advanced medical care. Froedtert & The Medical College are nationally recognized for exceptional physicians, research leadership, specialty expertise and state-of-the-science treatments and technology. For more information, visit froedtert.com and mcw.edu.