(Logan, UT) November 5, 2010. Each year, Americans spend billions of dollars on anti-aging skin-care products. November is National Healthy Skin Month. The healthcare team at Logan Regional Hospital joins with Intermountain Budge Clinic Dermatologist Nathan W. Hanson, M.D., in reminding community residents that the most effective step they can take to keep skin healthy and looking younger is to protect their skin from exposure to the sun.
"The most important thing people can do to prevent skin cancer — and to slow the aging of their skin — is to protect themselves from the sun, even in the winter," said Dr. Hanson. This includes wearing a moisturizer every day with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, wearing protective clothing, not using tanning beds, and avoiding the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for direct sun exposure.
Sunlight is a main cause of the skin changes we call aging — wrinkles, dryness, and age spots. Dr. Hanson said that most expensive over-the-counter "anti-aging" products do little to prevent aging of the skin. He recommends using a gentle cleanser and a simple, quality moisturizer with a SPF factor of at least 30 and not a lot of other added ingredients.
Dr. Hanson stresses that protection from the sun is especially important for children. "The long-term effects of exposure to the sun are not realized until we are older," he said. "Protecting our children now from the harmful effects of the sun plays the biggest role in preventing skin cancer down the road."
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends these eight "sun-smart" tips to protect your skin:
- Generously apply a water-resistant sunscreen with a SPF factor of at least 15 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to all exposed skin. Re-apply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
- Wear protecting clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, where possible.
- Seek shade, especially when the sun’s rays are strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. A good rule to remember is: If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Protect children from sun exposure by playing in the shade, wearing protective clothing, and applying sunscreen.
- Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand, as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
- Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements. Don’t seek the sun.
- Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look like you’ve been in the sun, consider using a sunless self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
- Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.
"We want people to be active and enjoy the outdoors and the sunshine," said Dr. Hanson, "but to do it in a fashion that is smart and protects their skin from sun exposure."