Summer is a popular time for family vacations and road trips. People also spend more time outdoors participating in sports, playing with their kids in the park or just enjoying a barbecue in the backyard. Here are some tips so you can keep your skin healthy all summer long.
1. Practice sun safety habits
a. Apply and later reapply sunscreen.
Be sure to apply SPF 30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen about a half hour before you go outside and bring along an extra bottle of sunscreen so you can reapply it about every two hours (or more often if you get wet or sweaty). Check the expiration date of the sunscreen bottle and discard any that are old. Some sunscreen bottles do not list an expiration date, so when you buy a new one, put a note on it indicating when it was purchased so you are aware for the future. Also, don’t store your sunscreen in a hot place like your car’s glove compartment or trunk. The heat can spoil it and make it ineffective. If you are planning a vacation, be sure to pack sunscreen, sunglasses with UV protection, a wide-brimmed hat and sun-protective clothing.
b. Wear UV-protective sunglasses.
In addition to wearing sunscreen, there are other supplementary ways to keep you and your family sun safe. Wear sunglasses with UV protection to protect your eyes and the delicate skin around your eyes from sun damage such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and cancer of the eye. In addition, by wearing sunglasses it will lessen your need to squint when the sun gets in your eyes, which can eventually cause fine lines and wrinkles.
When you go to the store to buy sunglasses, always look for a label indicating that the sunglasses offer 99 to 100 percent UV protection. There are many affordable brands of sunglasses that offer this important feature.
c. Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat with at least a 3-inch brim to protect your scalp, ears and the back of your neck from UV exposure. A wide-brimmed hat such as a sun hat offers more coverage than a baseball hat. Men who have thinning hair should wear a hat or sunscreen to protect their scalp from sun exposure.
d. Seek shade during the peak sun times.
The sun’s harmful UV rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Instead of sitting outside and tanning in the hot sun during these peak hours, try to find another activity such as visiting a museum, going inside for lunch, etc.
2. Protect your skin while you are traveling by plane or car
Did you know that you are exposed to the sun’s harmful UVA rays through your car’s side and rear windows? You might want to consider purchasing a transparent window film, which is an effective way to block out both UVA and UVB rays. (Of course, the windows need to be closed even if you have the transparent film installed on your car.)
If you have a car with a convertible top or a sunroof, be sure to wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen to protect your scalp, face and the back of your neck. Research has found that skin cancers are more common on a driver’s left hand side. You may not have realized it but when you rest your left arm on the car’s window ledge as you drive or sit in traffic, it increases your risk of skin cancer on the exposed skin area. Minimize your risk by keeping your window closed and your hands on the wheel.
It is important to protect yourself from UVA because it increases your risk of skin cancer and premature aging such as wrinkles and sun spots. You also get increased UVA exposure when you are flying in an airplane due to the elevation. You need to apply SPF 30+ sunscreen to your face, neck, ears and hands even when you are inside of a plane. If you have a window seat, close the window shade.
Although we tend to associate dry, cracked skin with wintertime, your skin can still get dry in the summertime. For example, some people experience dry skin after swimming from the chlorine in the pool. If you are looking for a lighter alternative instead of the heavy cream that you used during the winter, try a lotion. If you have sensitive skin, use skincare products that are fragrance-free.
If you have sensitive skin and are planning a vacation, bring your own lotion, soap, shampoo and conditioner to the hotel. Many hotels offer small complimentary bottles of toiletries but they often contain fragrances and other ingredients that can cause a skin reaction for those who are allergic to certain ingredients.
Drink plain water or fruit-infused water instead of sugary or caffeinated beverages. It is important for your overall health to stay well-hydrated in the hot weather. You can also stay hydrated by eating healthy fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of water such as watermelon, strawberries, oranges, cucumbers and even tomatoes.
5. Bring health food with you while traveling
Try to plan ahead before taking a trip and pack a healthy meal or snack. The prepackaged kosher airline meals often contain a lot of sodium, so it’s a good idea to pack other healthy meals and snacks. For a snack, you could pack fresh fruits (such as apples, peaches, grapes or berries), cut up vegetables or nuts. Another option would be to bring a can of tuna, cheese sticks, plain yogurt or hummus and vegetables with you.
By Dr. Margaret Ravits
Dr. Ravits is a board-certified dermatologist who provides comprehensive treatment of skin, hair, and nail conditions to adults and children in her River Edge and Hackensack offices. Learn more about her at www.ravitsdermatology.com.