Keeping your skin healthy in these high temps

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Summer is here, meaning many Santa Clarita Valley residents are being exposed to 100-degree temperatures and the sun’s harmful rays.

In addition to causing long-lasting skin damage, the Skin Cancer Foundation notes that a person’s risk for melanoma — the most dangerous form of skin cancer — doubles if one has had more than five sunburns.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, according to Heather Young, an oncology nurse navigator at Henry Mayo Memorial Hospital. And it’s causes include an increased exposure to the sun and a history of burns.

“We recommend broad spectrum sunscreen that possess UVA and UVB rays,” Young said.

She added the minimally recommended amount is 15 SPF, which protects you from 93% of the rays. The highest is 50 SPF, which protect individuals from 98% of the harmful rays.

When using sunscreen, make sure to use a “shot glass full at a time every two hours, and wait five minutes after you apply it, before you get in the pool,” Young said.

“Oil could possibly cause burning, but (oils) aren’t harmful. Sunburn is what’s harmful,” and not only because it’s not very comfortable.

“You can get a second-degree burn from a sunburn, which can increase the risk for infection,” Young said. “A blister is second-degree burn, and it ages you.”

One should never pop a blister because it’s protecting the skin, Young added, and if you find yourself with a sunburn, then it’s best to get out of the sun as soon as you can. If one prefers, then place a cool, damp towel on the skin or use aloe moisturizer.

You can also attempt to:

Cool the skin down quickly by sitting near a body of water or a backyard pool. Feel free to take a dip in the pool but make it quick to make sure your skin is not further exposed to the sun. 

Take a cool shower or bath, but the SCF recommends keeping the bath or shower short, as long baths or showers can dry the skin. It’s also wise to avoid harsh soap that can be irritating.

Apply a gentle moisturizing lotion while the skin is still damp, and continue doing so to affected areas for a few days. Avoid petroleum- or oil-based ointments, as they can trap the heat and make burns worse.

Decrease inflammation using an anti-inflammatory like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen, which can help manage the pain and discomfort associated with sunburns. Symptoms such as redness and swelling may be mitigated with a 1 percent over-the-counter cortisone cream applied as directed for a few days.

Report severe sunburns to a physician. Symptoms of severe sunburn include blistering of the skin, fever, chills, wooziness, and/or feelings of confusion. Report such symptoms to a physician immediately, and avoid popping blisters, as doing so can lead to infection.

Make a conscious effort to stay hydrated. Sunburns draw fluid to the surface of skin, taking it away from the rest of the body. So it’s important that men and women who have suffered a sunburn make a conscious effort to drink more fluids until their skin heals so they can avoid becoming dehydrated.

A lot of people might not know, “but the skin is your largest living organ,” Young said, mentioning dehydrated skin is among the many causes of facial wrinkling, which also can be caused by smoking, environmental factors and UV exposure. 

Conditions like dry, dehydrated skin may make wrinkles appear worse, but hydration and moisturizing often work hand-in-hand, “so stay hydrated and drink lots of water,” the oncology nurse navigator added.

Other skin care tips include:

Taking warm showers, as hot water can strip the natural lipids from skin and cause dryness.

Avoiding too many alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic drinks are diuretics that can cause the body to lose water, advises WebMD.

Using a humidifier indoors to amp up the moisture level in the air.

Enjoying water-rich foods, like watermelon, cucumber, grapes, and other succulent fruits and vegetables.

Drinking the recommended amount of water per day, and limit your consumption of caffeinated and sugary beverages.

Working out to improve blood flow and oxygenation in the skin.

A long sleeve and hat have also proven to be effective in protecting oneself from further damage, according to Young.

Many people choose their clothes based largely on their own unique fashion sense, but the clothes people wear can serve a greater purpose than broadcasting their sense of style to the world. The Skin Cancer Foundation believes clothing is the first line of defense against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Santa Clarita Valley residents can find articles of clothing that protect against UV rays at UVskinz.com 

Sunburns can always be avoided, experts say. Men, women and children planning to spend time in the sun should take every measure to avoid sunburn, which can produce long-lasting damage to the skin. 

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