Summer Skin Care

Health, Home & Family
on July 18, 2004

Summertime is fun time, but it also can be hard on your skin. With a few simple precautions you can give your skin the care it deserves during the warm months.

Made in the shade
Stay out of direct sun whenever possible. Sit in the shade, use beach umbrellas and try to avoid the sun’s hottest hours—between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Remember, glass doesn’t keep out ultraviolet rays. Use window shades that block the sun in the car, particularly the infant car seat side.

Keep your shirt on
Skimpy bathing suits and no shirts for the guys may seem appropriate but offer no protection. Lightweight cotton that breathes is a much better choice. Light colors reflect the light and heat. Wear white or pastel colored clothing whenever possible. Children should be covered well.

Slather on the sunscreen
Sunscreen, a SPF 15 or higher, should be applied liberally a half-hour before going out into the sun. Be sure to apply to those often-overlooked areas—ears, nose, top of head, and lips. To protect the lips, use a balm with sunscreen. When working or playing outside, reapply sunscreen every hour. Sweating causes it to wash off.

No sunscreen is 100 percent waterproof no matter what the package says. Reapply every hour when swimming. When buying sunscreen, read the labels. Make sure it provides protection from both UVA (ultraviolet aging) and UVB (ultraviolet burning) rays. Most of us are aware of the UVB rays and the damage they cause—redness, sunburn and blistering—but UVA rays can cause more serious problems, such as skin cancer and early aging skin.

Pass the hat
Wide-brimmed hats are another way to keep the sun off your face and head. The hat needs a brim of at least 1 to 2 inches to be effective. Children and babies should always wear a hat when in the sun.

If you end up with sunburn, take care of it promptly. Use cool water compresses gently applied to cool the skin. Drink plenty of fluids to re-hydrate your body. Aspirin is the best thing to get rid of inflammation and pain. Taking aspirin at the first sign of a burn can make a difference in stopping full-blown sunburn. You also can apply topical pain relievers. Soaking in an oatmeal bath helps soothe the skin, as does applying a soothing lotion, cream, or gel that contains Vitamin E and menthol. If your skin starts to blister badly you may need to see your doctor.