Your Skin: Pale Is Better Than Extra Crispy

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re sun starved. When the sun pokes out of the clouds, we love to stay outside walking, gardening, or just sitting and enjoying a nice glass of wine with friends. But we’re not always as diligent about applying sunblock as we should be. As a result that “healthy glow” is going to result in more wrinkles and freckles and less protective collagen.

Ultraviolet light radiation (the sun) is the number one cause of photo aging as well as skin cancer.

“Protecting yourself from exposure to this ultraviolet radiation is the first and most important thing you should do for your skin health,” says Janie Leonhardt, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist with Virginia Mason.
Every day you should wear a sun block on the face, ears, neck and forearms with an SPF of 30 or greater. And don’t forget your lips. Make sure the sun protection you’re using protects you adequately from both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation. You’ll know you have the right product if it is a broad-spectrum sun block, such as those containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Other helpful tips to keep your skin looking healthy and youthful include:

  • Apply sun protection 30 minutes prior to exposure and reapply after water exposure or every three to four hours.
  • When possible, avoid midday sun exposure.
  • Wear sun protective clothing with broad-rim hats and full-length shirts and pants when enjoying outdoor activities.

If you’re really serious about protecting and preserving your skin, see a dermatologist to get a professional evaluation. Dermatologists are experts at interpreting the changes that have already occurred and creating a personalized approach to the treatment of these changes.

For skin cancer prevention and treatment, Dr. Leonhardt recommends that everyone get a yearly full body skin examination by a dermatologist. You should also perform monthly self-skin exams. Any spots growing and changing in size, color or shape, should be evaluated as soon as possible in the office.

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