Sneaky Places You Need To Apply Sunscreen (But Probably Don’t)

Skin care. Girl applying moisturizing cream.You have probably read at least a few of my previous blog posts or heard my lectures about the importance of wearing sunscreen.  After all, sunscreen has been scientifically proven to prevent both aging effects on the skin and skin cancer.

I recently came across a study in a dermatologic journal about places on the body where sunscreen should be applied, but commonly isn’t even among individuals who make wearing sunscreen a habit.  As summer is now here, and June 20th was the longest day of the year, I thought I would share some of these areas with you.

If you haven’t been applying sunscreen to these areas already, all hope is not lost.  Hopefully, next time you are applying your sunscreen for a day outside, you will remember these areas.

1.) The Scalp

sunburn_baldMen who are balding frequently get bad sunburns on the scalp because the hair that once occupied that area isn’t there to protect the scalp from the sun (sorry gentlemen).  However, men with abundant hair and women can also get too much sun exposure on the scalp and not realize it until too late.

Obviously, wearing a hat will help.  However, to protect your scalp optimally, apply sunscreen along the hairline, down your part and over any other areas exposed.  You can place a dab of sunscreen on a Q-tip to more easily apply sunscreen to these areas and avoid getting your hair greasy.

2.) The Ears

sunscreen_earFor those who say that they will just wear a baseball cap, the delicate skin of the ears is still exposed.  Actually, a very common area for skin cancer in farmers is on the top of the ears, as nowadays they are frequently outside wearing their baseball caps, completely unaware that their ears are getting way too much sun.

As you can probably guess, a baseball cap will help protect the top of your head and your forehead from UV rays, but it never covers both your ears no matter how you wear it.  While a cowboy hat or any other hat with a round, wide rim helps, it’s best to apply sunscreen to the ears to guarantee the fullest protection from the sun.

Just like the scalp area, the tops of the ears are the most vulnerable to sunlight.  However, it is good policy to apply sunscreen all over the ears, as the sun is not necessarily directly above your head.

3.) The Eyelids

sunscreen-on-eyesAlthough sunglasses will generally protect the eyes from the sun, the very sensitive and thin upper eyelids may get ultraviolet radiation from above.  It is recommended that you apply a light layer of sunscreen to the eyelids.

One tip is to use a thicker sunscreen on the eyelids, such as ones generally used on the lips.  Thicker sunscreens are less likely to leak into the eyes themselves, commonly causing irritation.

4.) The Feet

feet-sunscreenSummer footwear (e.g. sandals, flip-flops, shoes with a patchwork patten) frequently exposes the top of the feet and toes to the sun.  To enjoy those hours in flip-flops and to avoid the pain of sunburns in those areas, apply sunscreen to your feet generously before heading out.

Also, while some sunscreens are water resistant, no sunscreen is waterproof.  Keeping that rule in mind, don’t forget to reapply sunscreen to your feet after dipping them in the pool, lake or ocean as well.

5.) Neck and Upper Chest

DécolletéEven those women who are religious about applying sunscreen to the face and other areas will frequently forget the upper chest and decolletage area.  Most women’s summer fashions expose this area with either a V-neck or scoop neck.

Again, these styles of tops expose a skin area that has previously been covered up for months at a time to heavy doses of UV rays.  It’s a far less inconvenient area to which to apply sunscreen, but many women still forget to do it.

Of note also is that after I have helped many women reverse photoaging effects on the face, the next subject area to treat is often this region.  A common refrain is: “My face looks much better now, but what the hell happened to my neck and chest?”  Applying sunscreen to this region will guarantee that you won’t be asking yourself this question years from now.

Practice applying sunscreen to these additional and sometimes hard-to-reach spots.  By doing this, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful weather without guilt and without the short term pain of sunburn or the long term pain of skin cancer and/or premature aging.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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