Spring Break—Taking Care of Your skin

With spring break rapidly approaching, some are eagerly anticipating trips to warm and sunny spots. Take a minute before packing up your suitcase to think a bit about your skin health.

If you are considering obtaining a “base” tan before you leave, think again. Tanning beds are proven to increase your risk of developing skin cancer and premature photoaging. Spray tans and self-tanning creams are much safer alternatives if you’d like to have a tanned appearance.

In addition to packing your flip flops and a bathing suit, consider including sun-protective clothing as well as sunglasses and a hat. Light-colored cotton clothing provides only slight protection from ultraviolet rays. Tighter weaves and darker colors provide much higher sun protection. Various companies, such as Coolibar and Solumbra, offer clothing that allows you to enjoy being outside while stylishly and safely covering your skin.

Sunscreen should be an essential part of your spring break routine. Your sunscreen should provide “broad spectrum” coverage and have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 (or higher). While SPF generally refers to protection from UVB rays, broad spectrum labeling means the sunscreen also protects against UVA radiation. Creams and lotions tend to be more effective than sprays because individuals rarely apply enough of the sprays to achieve the labelled SPF. The most important consideration, however, should be that you like the way the sunscreen looks, feels, and smells so that you’ll actually apply it every day.

One final consideration should be to review your medications before leaving. Several kinds of medications may increase your sensitivity to light, and potentially lead to severe sunburns. Some of the more common medications associated with photosensitivity include: doxycycline, hydrochlorothiazie, ciprofloxacin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and isotretinoin (Accutane). You should never stop a medication without first discussing it with your prescribing physician.

Having a great time and taking care of your skin can go hand in hand.

Have a wonderful spring break!