Protect Yourself From the Sun

sunshine with shadesWe all find sunshine therapeutic as a mood booster. However, sunshine can have dangers as well as benefits. Sun damaged skin from sunburn or chronic exposure is the major cause of skin cancer. Doctors believe that most skin cancers can be avoided by using proper prevention. Sun damaged skin also contributes to premature aging. Repeated sun damage skin will look thicker, leathery and wrinkled. It can cause age spots, fragile and sagging skin.

The best way to avoid the dangers of the sun is to stay of out of the sun, but for most of us that is not realistic. Thus, when we go outside below I offer a few tips to minimize the sun’s harmful effects.

1) Always wear sunscreen  Sunscreens are variable by type of ingredients and the SPF. SPF stands for sun protection factor. The SPF number tells you how the product will protect you from the burning rays of the sun-UVB. Most sunscreens will protect you from UVA rays- the second major ray of the sun too. Everyone should wear a minimum of SPF 30. If you have had skin cancer, then use a sunscreen with even higher SPF. Everyone is recommended to wear sunscreen including children greater than 6 months old. Recently, a researcher reported that if sunscreens were used regularly by children through the age of 18, there would be a 72% reduction in the cases of skin cancer later in life.

The ingredients are important because they offer different types of protection. For complete block, look for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

I also recommend a natural plant based option. Several people report regular Cataplex F use can prevent sunburn used in conjunction with SPF.

2) Wear sunglasses that filter the UV light.

3) Wear protective clothing. Some clothes today provide SPF in fabric in addition to clothing being a basic layer of protection. Wear a wide brimmed hat to provide more shade and protection.

4) Avoid the “hot” sun in the middle of the day. This is about 10am-3pm. The ultraviolet rays which cause sunburn are strongest during this time.

Treating damaged skin

Even if we try to prevent sun burn, sometimes it happens. Several skin treatments with medical grade skin care products, chemical peels or optical light laser can stimulate collagen and elastin to gain tightening and elasticity for a more youthful appearance. Laser can help diminish broken blood vessels and brown spots from sun damage skin. I also recommend an annual skin check from your doctor or a dermatologist.

Let’s not forget the sun’s benefits.

Vitamin D is important for many processes in the body. Muscle, prostate, bone health and immunity to name a few. It also plays a role in sugar and mood balance. You can get Vitamin D from: 1) Food 2) Sun 3) Supplements

Vitamin D is tough to get in your diet. It is only present in a few foods. It is naturally present in fatty fish like salmon and shellfish. Other foods like milk and fresh orange juice are fortified by the manufacturing industry.

We need sunlight for our bodies to make Vitamin D. It does not require a lot either. Only 10-15 minutes of sun exposure with no SPF is required to generate Vitamin D.

Since most adults don’t get enough Vitamin D in their diet or get enough sun exposure because of wearing sunscreen to prevent risk of skin cancer, supplements are necessary to get the recommended daily dosing. You can use Vitamin D3 over the counter. You can also use a plant based supplement from Standard Process, which from my experience gets absorbed very well. I offer both to my patients. I recommend you see your doctor to get your Vitamin D levels measured initially and a follow up. I recommend follow up levels because a leading test center reported that over 30+ brands of Vitamin D supplements tested, the average contained 33% of the dose on the level. There was also variability from bottle to bottle of the same manufacturer. Make sure your body gets what it needs and what you paid for.

Enjoy your summer. May the warmth of the suns rays make you feel good on the inside while you protect your skin on the outside.

Written by Dr. Kathleen Fearon D.O. – Physician and owner of Comprehensive Internal Medicine and Skin Care Solutions. An Internal Medicine practice where complete medical care along with an integrative nutritional approach is being offered when desired as well as advanced skin care evaluations and treatment plans are implemented.