Summer Skin Care – London Drugs Blog

Spending time outdoors soaking up the sun is something many people look forward to as the winter turns to spring and then to summer. But too much exposure to the sun’s rays can damage the skin and cause long-term problems far more serious than the temporary pain of a sunburn.

The damage the sun can cause reaches below the surface of the skin and affects the skin’s underlying structure. This damage is known as photoaging, and it can lead to significant problems, even skin cancer. Photoaging can result from ultraviolet (UV) radiation from artificial tanning devices as well as from repeated exposure to the sun’s rays.

The most common types of sun damage to the skin are:

  • Actinic dermatosis: Tiny rough bumps or scaly patches with a brown, pink, red, or yellow tint. Unlike a tan or sunburn, this condition generally doesn’t go away on its own and must be treated by a doctor.
  • Dry skin: Skin that is regularly exposed to the sun can lose moisture and essential oils, leaving it looking dry, flaky, and wrinkled, even in younger people.
  • Sunburn: Mild cases of sunburn may cause only painful reddening of the skin, but severe cases can produce blisters or fluid-filled bumps called vesicles.

In addition, long-term sun damage can lead to changes in the skin’s collagen, which supports the walls of the tiny blood vessels in the skin, making the vessels more fragile and more likely to rupture.

Signs of photoaging

Damage from the sun’s radiation can lead to spots and lumps on the skin. Freckles are one type of spot that the sun can cause; others are moles and melanoma (a form of skin cancer).

Freckles are small, flat spots that usually appear on the areas of the skin that get the most sun—the face, neck, back, upper chest, hands, and arms. They are usually harmless, but if you notice any changes in their appearance, you should tell your healthcare provider right away so they can be checked.

Moles can appear anywhere on the body. They can be either flat or slightly raised, and they can grow and can change in colour and shape. Moles most often appear during the first 20 years of a person’s life, but they can develop after that. Most moles are benign (not cancerous), but some can turn cancerous later. Most moles don’t require treatment; however, if a mole changes colour, shape, size, or height, it should be checked by a doctor.

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Most melanomas are brown or black, but some can be pink, red, purple, or skin-coloured. They grow quickly and can spread to other organs.

The A-B-C-D-E guide

Spotting skin problems early can help you get any necessary treatment sooner, when the treatment is more likely to be effective.  The following is the A-B-C-D-E guide to help you identify any problems related to skin spots.

  • A = asymmetry: This means the two sides of the spot are different. If you draw an imaginary line through the centre of the spot, the two sides wouldn’t match each other.
  • B =border: The spot’s border has a ragged, blurred, notched, or irregular edge.
  • C = colour: The colour of the spot is not the same all over and may contain different shades of black, brown, ta n, red, pink, white, or blue.
  • D = diameter: The size of the spot is the same as a pencil eraser or larger.
  • E = evolving: The spot as changed in size, colour, or shape.

If you notice any of these signs, see your healthcare provider right away.

Protect your skin

Even if you enjoy spending time in the sun, you don’t have to become a victim of the sun’s harmful UV rays. There are steps you can take to protect your skin from sun damage.

  • Apply sunscreen regularly. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and look for a product that is water resistant and that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Apply a generous amount, put it on before any insect repellent or makeup, and reapply it at least every two hours. Your London Drugs pharmacist can help you select a sunscreen that is right for you.
  • Wash your face properly. You will sweat more in hot weather, so wash your face carefully—all the way up to your hairline. If necessary, your pharmacist can recommend cleansers that unclog pores and kill acne-producing bacteria.
  • Use moisturizers and choose cosmetics that have moisturizing properties in addition to applying sunscreen.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing. Light weight long-sleeved shirts and pants can cover and protect your arms, legs, and torso. Do not pick open-weave fabrics such as lace that allow the sun to reach your skin. Dark colours provide more protection than light colours.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat that protects your face and neck.
  • Wear shoes that protect your feet.
  • Wear sunglasses that provide UV protection. This will be indicated on the label. Just because the lenses are dark doesn’t mean they are UV protective.
  • Protect your skin as much as possible, especially between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest.

Don’t leave your skin health to chance. Take the necessary precautions to protect your skin from sun damage. If you have any questions, be sure to speak with your healthcare providers.

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