The Sun Can Be Sneaky, So Be Prepared

fear_the_sunYou all know that if you head off to the beach for the day that you need to apply your minimum SPF 30 sunscreen and re-apply it regularly throughout the day.  At least you should know that fact if you have been following my postings over the past several years.

However, despite our best efforts at sunscreen and hats sometimes, the sun has ways to get to our skin when we least expect it.  One of the most common mistakes people make is on a foggy day or one with a cloud-covered sky, they do not feel the need to put on their sunscreen that day.

cloud_coverThe most common assumption is that on foggy or cloudy days, the sun is obstructed and therefore cannot do damage to exposed skin without sunscreen.  Do not be fooled.  You can still get a sunburn or at least photoaging sun damage on a cloudy day.

The ultraviolet rays can penetrate cloud cover, especially the UVA rays, which are the most responsible for aging skin damage.  If you are going to be outside any day, do not forget your sunscreen!

Another common instance of getting sun without realizing it is in the car.  Many medical studies have shown that Americans get more skin cancer and photoaging sun damage on the left face and left arm than on the right.

Conversely, these studies also show that British and Australian drivers have similar sun damage findings on the right side of their face and arm.  This finding makes perfect sense when you realize that British and Australian motorists drive on the right side of the car, not the left as North Americans do.

Using a UV blocking film on the driver’s side window or tinting can help protect drivers from the sun.  For the rest of us, sunscreen is the primary defense.

paddleboardFor those who are active on or around the water, be aware even if you are not getting wet.  Obviously, if you are going to swim or dip in the water to cool off, you should apply a waterproof or water resistant sunscreen and re-apply it after you emerge from the water.

However, even if you are on a boat, kayak or paddleboard, you are also getting exposed to sun reflecting off the water’s surface onto your body.  Be aware of this extra sun exposure, and apply sunscreen to all exposed skin areas to avoid unexpected sunburn and long-term damage.

Airplanes, believe it or not, are another travel danger for possible sun damage.  Most people do not think about travelling on airplanes exposing them more to the sun compared to automobiles.

airplane_passengerWhen you are at a high altitude, you are actually much closer to the sun, and the atmosphere up in the stratosphere is much thinner and less protective.  If you have a window seat in particular, you are being exposed to a much higher and more dangerous dose of ultraviolet rays, even though the window is relatively small compared to car windows.

You can always close the window shade, yes, but then you will miss all the scenery.  Just to be safe, put one a layer of sunscreen before you take off.

I do not mean to make you paranoid, but I want you to be aware of the sun’s devious ways of getting to you that could cause you harm.  Wear your sunscreen daily and re-apply regularly and you should be fine.

Most sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher ratings are optimal and acceptable in protecting you against the sun.  We have several sunscreens here at Maine Laser Skin Care that work very well with sensitive skin and for those who have had laser procedures.

If you have any questions about this post or any other skin questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call at (207) 873-2158.

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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