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4 Crucial Suncare Tips Doctors Give Their Friends

by kelly / August, 16 2017 01:30

Woman on the beach sunbathing

Ever wonder what the experts think about your skin and the sun? Well we’ve rounded up some sound advice from some top doctors across the country. It’s not only advice they give to their patients but also to friends and family – so you know it’s not only helpful but also meaningful!

The physicians’ advice below is all thanks to our friends over at Redbook.

1. You Need to Wear More Sunscreen

From Laura Ferris, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Trials at UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Department of Dermatology:

“I was at the pool with a friend last August when I discovered she was still using the bottle of sunscreen she’d bought in May. She wasn’t applying enough — one bottle shouldn’t last you the summer. The recommendation is a shot-glass-full each time you apply, but most people use only half that amount. I told her my tricks to get better coverage: Start with your head and work down to your toes, and get someone to do your back…And be sure you don’t neglect the ears and neck. The ears are a common area for skin cancer, and they’re especially hard to treat because of their shape — there’s just not much skin to work with to repair the ear after a cancer is removed.“

Key takeaway from Dr. Ferris’ advice is to be generous with your sunscreen application and apply all over!

2. You Can Get Vitamin D and Wear Sunscreen

More from Dr. Ferris:

“I cringed recently when a friend told me she didn't wear sunscreen all the time because she needed vitamin D. This is a mistake on so many levels. Yes, UVB rays are needed for the body to make vitamin D into the usable form that protects your bones. But even when you use sunscreen, you're not 100 percent protected from the sun's rays. And the sun-vitamin D relationship is complicated: Time of day, season, and skin tone impact vitamin D production. For most people, 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected exposure a couple of times a week in the summer is all that is needed. In fact, to prevent an overdose, your body won't convert more vitamin D than it needs, so you're quickly left with sun damage and no benefit at all. Eat your D instead — you can find it in salmon, tuna, cheese, eggs, and fortified cereal, milk, and orange juice — and talk to your doctor about the best supplement dosage."

Looks like we can have our cake and eat it too – get our vitamin D and wear sunblock – based on the doctor’s advice!

3. Don’t Forget Your Sunglasses

Keith Walter, M.D., Professor of Ophthalmology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC:

"I went golfing recently with a buddy who refused to wear sunglasses. He kept insisting that the sun didn't bother his eyes. I explained that UV rays damage the cells in your eyes the same way they do your skin. Over time, the repair process can lead to problems like cataracts and macular degeneration as well as eyelid cancers. And that's at any age: I have a patient in her 40s who developed cataracts due to sun exposure, and pterygium — or surfer's eye, one of the most common sun-related conditions — can occur as early as your 20s. It's a growth that can spread from the corner of the eye, impairing vision. So please always wear sunglasses. They don't have to be expensive, but they do have to provide 100 percent UVA and UVB protection. When you're in a boat, on a beach, by a pool, or in the snow, your eyes are especially vulnerable, because the sun's rays reflect off water and snow. But even city streets and sidewalks are risky."

Protect your eyes – they need as much protection as your skin. Plus for me adding sunglasses to any outfit makes it more stylish.

4. Get Your Skin Checked Every Year

Larisa Geskin, M.D., director of the Comprehensive Skin Cancer Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City:

"I have a college friend who had always had a mole on her forehead. When I saw her at a reunion recently, I was alarmed. It had become a textbook melanoma, but when I asked if she'd had it looked at, she quickly dismissed me: 'I was born with this. It's fine.' It wasn't. Melanomas develop slowly, and the person looking at the cancer every day rarely notices these gradual changes. Of the ABCDE formula for recognizing melanomas—asymmetrical, irregular borders, color changes, diameter, and evolving — the last, evolving, is the most important, yet the hardest for the patient to see. Plus, most melanomas don't even develop in a mole. They can also be clear in color or look like a pimple or sore that just won't heal. An itchy or tender patch of skin can be a melanoma. This is why it's so important to see a dermatologist who specializes in skin cancer for a skin check every year. Fortunately, my friend's cancer was caught early, and she's doing well."

If you can spot it, you can stop it – according to the Skin Cancer Foundation if skin cancer is detected early, it can be treated. It’s important to do regular self-exams of your skin and to see your physician regularly.

More Suncare Advice

Check out our Suncare Smarts blog series or these specific posts for tips and tricks for staying sun safe:

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