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Sun Is Fun Until You Burn

August 10, 2018

Since everyone's skin burns at a different rate, how much sun it takes for you to burn will depend on a number of factors, such as your skin complexion, the time of day you are exposed and the quality of sunscreen you applied. Although there is no cookie-cutter answer as to how much is too much sun, it is important for you to remember, when UV radiation levels are high, skin can burn within minutes. Thus, it is crucial to protect all areas of exposed skin anytime you venture outdoors in the Sunshine State, and pay special attention to protecting sensitive areas like your nose, cheeks, eyes, neck, ears, toes and feet. If you mistakenly think your flip-flops or sandals will provide enough sun protection, you could end up with a pair of painfully sore, blood red dew-beaters.

It is rather amazing the number of visitors that come to our state each year and spend part of their vacation in an emergency room or urgent care center being treated for second-degree burns. UV dosages of ultraviolet light are naturally higher as you approach the equator and lower as you approach the poles. So, the Florida sun can be brutal year round, which explains why the state has among the highest rates of skin cancer in the nation. For this reason alone, it cannot be overstated the need for everyone to use an effective sunscreen and to cover up even if they are only exposed for a nominal period of time. Since the sun's UV rays are strongest during the middle of the day, your risk for sunburn also increases during those hours.

Skincare Safety for Spending Time in the Sun

Michael Steppie, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Florida State University and medical director of Associates in Dermatology, recently collaborated with Ranjan Perera, Ph.D., associate professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute at Lake Nona, to develop a better first line of defense for preventing cases of UV-related skin cancer. Their research suggests that nearly 90 percent of melanomas (the most dangerous and life-threatening form of skin cancer) are considered to be preventable. Since one blistering sunburn can double your chances of developing melanoma later in life, the following tips and guidelines will help you limit your exposure to damaging UV and reduce your risk of developing a serious skin condition:

  • Remember that all skin types can develop skin cancer, including people who tan easily or have naturally dark skin.
  • Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin – even on cloudy days – year-round.
  • Use a sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
  • Apply approximately one ounce of sunscreen (a shot-glassful) 15 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat (preferably sun-protective clothing, accessories and swimwear carrying a UPF 50+ label), and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Seek shade when possible. The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Water, snow and sand reflect and magnify the damaging rays of the sun, increasing your chance of sunburn. Especially during peak hours while at the beach, stay in the shade from an umbrella carrying a UPF 50+.
  • Avoid tanning beds – there is no way to get a tan through UV exposure without increasing the risk for skin cancer. Using a tanning bed before age 35 increases your risk for melanoma by 75 percent.
  • Be aware that certain prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs can increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.
  • Sun-proof your car windows with UVA-filtering window glass or film.

Source: Melanoma Research Foundation, American Academy of Dermatology.

Anti-Green Sunscreen Products Banned in Hawaii

Last month, Hawaii implemented the world's first ban to prohibit the sale and distribution of over-the-counter sunscreens containing harsh chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate. Since the named chemical agents are known to be toxic to coral larvae and other aquatic life, the legislation aims to protect the state's important marine ecosystems. Moreover, both chemicals have been associated with harmful affects to human reproductive health as well. Hawaii’s recent ban leaves manufacturers with a couple of options. Sunscreen providers can continue offering chemical sunscreens without oxybenzone and octinoxate, or switch to natural sun blocks that are mineral-based. The state believes the hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues will motivate companies to develop safer products for all.

Associates in Dermatology was one of the leaders in the green sunscreen movement and started encouraging consumers years ago to cover up using physical sunscreens that are environmentally safe for the sun worshiper and the surrounding environment. Also known as "physical blockers", these mineral-based sunscreen products sit on top of the skin and provide the same effective protection from the sun's harmful rays as chemical-based sun blocks. In fact, some believe they are more effective as they protect exposed skin from both UVA and UVB rays by deflecting rather than absorbing radiant energy. Although many sun seekers may prefer products that are absorbed directly into the skin, physical particles like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are better at deflecting UV radiation away from the skin. Plus, the reapplication of sun protection after a splash in the pool is necessary using either type of sunblocker.

Environmentally safe UV protection from STEPPIEMD skin care regimen

A couple of years ago, in addition to his many scientific observations, Dr. Steppie became dedicated to introducing a new product line (STEPPIEMD essentials) with targeted solutions for various skin types and needs. Just as skin cancer patients trust his expertise for their treatment, you can trust his sunscreen products to come to your skin's rescue.

Green sunscreen products from STEPPIEMD Essentials provide sheer, physical protection from the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays. The weightless, residue-free transparent finish makes it easier for you to opt for sunscreen protection even on those cloudy days. For powerful protection for all skin types and sensitive skin, check out these sunscreen options.

  • INFINITY UV DEFENSE SUNSCREEN (spray) - This supreme anti-oxidant spray broad spectrum SPF 50+ is enriched with four antioxidants and emollients for optimal protection from free radical damage. Fast absorbing this sunscreen is water-resistant and ideal for covering larger body areas.
  • INFINITY UV DEFENSE SUNSCREEN (cream) - This supreme anti-oxidant cream broad spectrum SPF 50+ sun protection contains 13.75% zinc oxide and is free of chemical absorbers. You won't have to worry about sun protection, if you make this application part of your daily routine.
  • BB CREAM - This antioxidant oil control sunscreen broad spectrum SPF 50+ goes on silky smooth for powerful protection from sun damage. Enriched with moisturizers and 16.2% zinc oxide, it helps conceal minor skin imperfections and evens facial skin tones.

So what should you do if you forget and have too much fun in the Florida sun? For serious burns with blistering red skin, you should immediately seek the advice of a healthcare professional. For someone with no blisters but a reddish discomfort that stings or itches, you can visit the Skin Cancer Foundation webpage for tips on 5 Ways to Treat a Sunburn once you take the recommended first step and GET YOUR SKIN OUT OF THE SUN.

"Nobody’s perfect, and a sunburn can happen. But it’s important to take it seriously and stop it from happening again. Your risk for melanoma doubles if you’ve had more than five sunburns."

Skin Cancer Foundation

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