'Tis the season of the sun! You probably know that you need to show your skin to the sun especially May to September to get your Vitamin D stores built up for bone health and immune system strength. But you also probably know that getting a sunburn can be dangerous and increase your risk of getting skin cancer. So you need to protect against sunburn. Unfortunately most commercial sunscreens contain dangerous chemicals that can also cause cancer.
TIPS: Sunscreen Should Be Your Last Resort! To protect yourself and your family, you can use the barrier method - wearing clothing to cover your head and skin. Some companies even make clothing that has sunscreen capability. Check your skin regularly for new moles or growth or changes in an existing mole. Ask your primary health care provider how often you should see a dermatologist. The best defense against getting too much harmful ultraviolet radiation is a combination of protective clothing, shade and good timing. '' Don’t get burned. Red, sore, blistered or peeling skin means far too much sun – and raises your skin cancer risk. Cover up. Shirts, hats, shorts and pants provide the best protection from UV rays – and they don’t coat your skin with goop.'' Find shade – or make it. Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella or take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they are still developing the tanning pigments, known as melanin, that protect skin. Plan around the sun. Go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is lower. UV radiation peaks at midday. Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion accessory. Good shades protect your eyes from UV radiation that may cause cataracts. Pick a good sunscreen. EWG’s sunscreen database evaluates the safety and efficacy of SPF-rated products, including sunscreens for recreational use and SPF-rated daily-use moisturizers and lip products. They give the best ratings to products that provide broad spectrum protection – that is, from both UVA and UVB rays – with ingredients that pose fewer health concerns when absorbed by the body. Now, put on sunscreen. Some sunscreens prevent sunburn but are less effective at reducing UV rays that cause other types of skin damage. Make sure your sunscreen offers broad spectrum protection. Don’t fall for high SPF labels. Pick a sunscreen with an SPF between 15 and 50+. Higher SPF numbers can tempt you to stay in the sun too long – and even if you don’t burn, your skin may get damaged. Choose a product based on your own skin coloration, and if you are near water or at high elevation, consider a more protective product. Reapply often. Avoid sunscreen with vitamin A. Government data show that tumors and lesions develop sooner on skin coated with creams laced with vitamin A, also called retinyl palmitate or retinol. Avoid any skin or lip product whose label includes retinyl palmitate, retinol or vitamin A. Avoid oxybenzone. It's an ingredient that may behave like estrogen. Oxybenzone penetrates the skin readily and can disrupt the hormone system. Look for products with zinc oxide, 3 percent avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. They protect skin from harmful UVA radiation. Don’t combine sunscreen with repellent. If you need bug repellent, buy it separately and apply it first. Don’t spray. Sprays cloud the air with tiny particles that may not be safe to breathe. Reapply cream often. Sunscreen chemicals sometimes degrade in the sun, wash off or rub off on towels and clothing. Men ignore sun safety at their peril. In 2021, the American Cancer Society estimates about twice as many American men are expected to die from melanoma as women. Surveys show that 48 percent of men report routine sun avoidance, compared to 68 percent of women. Got your vitamin D? Many people don’t get enough vitamin D, a hormone manufactured by the skin in the presence of sunlight. Your health care provider can test your level. Unfortunately most Americans are deficient. I recommend this vitamin D supplement with vitamin K for better absorption Vitamin D3 & K2 from Bioclinic Naturals. If you can't take vitamin K because you on are on blood thinners, try this one Vitamin D 2000IU Carlson Labs. You can get a 10% discount when you order on Fullscript through the links above and free shipping for orders of $50 or more.
Sun safety tips for kids. A few blistering sunburns in childhood can double a person’s lifetime chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer. The best form of sun protection is a hat and shirt. After that, protect kids with a sunscreen product that’s effective and safe. Take these special precautions with infants and children: Infants. Infants under 6 months should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible. Their skin is not yet protected by melanin. When you take your baby outside:
Cover them up with protective clothing that’s tightly woven but loose fitting, and a sun hat.
Make shade. Use the stroller’s canopy or hood. If you can’t sit in a shady spot, use an umbrella.
Avoid midday sun. Take walks in the early morning or late afternoon.
Follow product warnings for sunscreens on infants younger than 6 months old. Most manufacturers advise against using sunscreens on infants, or advise parents and caregivers to consult a doctor first. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that small amounts of sunscreen can be used on infants as a last resort when caretakers can’t find shade.
Toddlers and children. Sunscreens are an essential part of a day in the sun. But young children’s skin is especially sensitive to chemical allergens, as well as the sun’s UV rays.
Test sunscreen by applying a small amount on the inside of your child’s wrist the day before you plan to use it. If an irritation or rash develops, try another product. Ask your child’s doctor to suggest a product less likely to irritate your child’s skin.
Slop on sunscreen and reapply it often, especially if your child is playing in the water or sweating a lot.
Sun safety at school. Send sunscreen to daycare and school. Some child care facilities provide sunscreen, but you can buy your own to make sure it’s safe and effective. Share EWG’s safe sunscreen tips and product suggestions with your child’s school and caregiver. Find out your child’s school’s sun safety policy. Sometimes daycare and school policies interfere with children’s sun safety. Many schools treat sunscreen as a medicine and require written permission to use it on a child. Some insist that the school nurse apply it. Teens. Teenagers who covet bronzed skin are likely to sunbathe or visit tanning salons, both of which are a bad idea. Researchers believe that increasing UV exposure may have caused the marked increase in melanoma incidence noted among women born after 1965. Tanning salons expose the skin to as much as 15 times more UV radiation than the sun, and tanning bed use has been directly linked to increased rates of melanoma in women. Tan does not mean healthy. Be a good role model for your teens – let them see that you protect yourself from the sun. For sunscreen that you apply to your skin, I encourage you to check out EWG's recommendations for safe sunscreens. EWG is one of my heroes. They're a watchdog for us consumers for the chemical industry. In case you missed it earlier this summer, EWG (Environmental Working Group) released their 2021 Guide To Sunscreens. Of the more than 1,300 sun protection products EWG scientists investigated, two-thirds offer inadequate protection or contain worrisome chemicals like Oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor that is readily absorbed by the body. The good news: The FDA is considering new regulations that would help ensure that ALL sunscreens are safe and effective. But until those regulations are in effect, you can count on EWG’s 2021 Guide to Sunscreens to find an effective sunscreen without worrisome ingredients! As always... here's to your best health! Dr. Linda P.S. Check out the guide HERE to find the best sunscreen for you!
Fun Fact: It feels like the Sun has been around forever, unchanging, but that’s not true. The Sun is actually slowly heating up. It’s becoming 10% more luminous every billion years.