It's officially summertime. And fairs, festivals and food fests mean lots of sun. So how do you keep your skin healthy and wrinkle-free this summer? And, even more importantly, how do you protect yourself from dangerous sun exposure and skin cancer?
Skin care experts have a simple piece of advice. Wear sunscreen. It can prevent years of problems, help skin look younger, decrease the likelihood of skin cancer and prevent embarrassing redness.
"It's really important," said dermatologist Dan Elieff of the Midwest Clinic of Dermatology, St. Cloud. "We pick up a lot of sun. We have a short window of nice weather in this state."
Everyone, regardless of skin tone, is at risk of burning, Elieff said. He recommends using sunscreen every day, not just on long outings.
There is no such thing as a safe tan. The skin is still damaged.
Burns and tans can lead to basal cell and squamous cell cancers. One in five people will develop such cancers, Elieff said. Incidents of melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer, are also increasing, Elieff said.
If that's not reason enough to remember sunscreen, years of sun exposure can cause age spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
Yet sun lovers don't always slather on sunscreen.
"People have gotten better overall with sunscreen," said Leah Popp, a certified medical assistant, Skin Care Doctors, Sartell. "But the sun makes them feel good. It's like smoking, people know it's dangerous, but they still do it."
Elieff, Popp and the American Academy of Dermatology offer this information on keeping skin safe this summer.
1. Use sunscreen. Use sunscreen. Use sunscreen. Dermatologists are concerned about two kinds of sun rays -- ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B. The rays cause sunburns and tans and sunscreen can help protect against damage.
2. Choose the right sunscreen. The academy recommends a sunscreen with a 30 SPF or higher for best protection. People can choose between two kinds of products:Sunblocks, which contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They're gentle on sensitive skins, Elieff said. They provide immediate protection.Sunscreens. These are the most common form of protection, he said. They actually change the makeup of the light wave length. Screens must be applied between 15-30 minutes before going outside for protection.A 30 SPF protects against 97 percent of UVB rays. A 15 SPF protects against 93 percent of rays. A 2 SPF protects against 50 percent rays. The SPF also refers to the amount of time a person can spend in the sun without burning, Elieff said. For instance, a 30 SPF means a person can spend 30 times as long in the sun without burning, compared to no coverage. Coverage is relative, Elieff said. It's based on skin type and how long it typically takes someone to burn. Sunscreens have gotten much more user-friendly, Popp said. Sunscreens aren't as greasy or thick as they once were, she said. She suggests looking for "broad spectrum" on the bottle. It provides better protection, she said. Elieff likes spray-on sunscreens because of the convenience, he said. They are particularly good for those who like to play outdoor sports and children, he said. Pay attention to the ingredients, Elieff said. Most quality sunscreens have three ingredients. Cheaper ones can have between 5-7 ingredients. "You get what you pay for," Elieff said. 3. Think ahead. Put the sunscreen in the beach bag. Even water-resistant sunscreen needs to be reapplied. Apply sunscreen every two hours after swimming or sweating. 4. Use enough sunscreen. Most people apply between 25-50 percent of the recommended amount, reports the American Academy of Dermatology. It recommends using one ounce for your complete body. That's equal to one shot glass. 5. Dress for success. Wear clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses. Wet clothing, light clothing and loose knits don't offer much protection. Tighter weaves of fabrics offer more protection. Outdoor enthusiasts can buy clothing that provides protection, which can be as high as an 80 SPF, Elieff said. 8. Look for shade, especially when the sun is at its strongest, between 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Follow this general rule, if a person's shadow is shorter than the person. 9. Don't skimp on protection. Water and sand reflect sun rays, and can increase the potential for burns. // var ranNum = Math.round(Math.random()*1000000); document.write('http://content.yellowbrix.com/images/content/cimage.nsp?ctype=full_story&story_id=146411883&id=thirdage&ip_id=McClatchy-Tribune+Business+News&source_id=St.+Cloud+Times%2C+Minn.&category=Healthcare&random=' + (ranNum));// ]]>//