5 Tips to Keep Your Skin Healthy This Summer

Skin Healthy This Summer

5 Tips to Keep Your Skin Healthy This Summer

Fun in the sun is on most of our minds as the summer season heats up. But as with most things, some safety precautions should be taken when going outside – especially if you’ll be at the beach or pool for extended periods of time, or even if you’re at home gardening or mowing the lawn, says Dr. Alessandrina M. Freitas, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon at White Plains Hospital. 

Skin cancer is incredibly common. Recently Hugh Jackman revealed he had a pair of biopsies for basal cell carcinoma. Though they turned out to be negative, his actions were a particularly good idea in the X-Men actor’s case, as he has received treatment for basal cell carcinoma several times, including having skin cancer removed from his nose in 2013.

In addition, Khloe Kardashian shared that she had a melanoma on her face, which was then removed. Again, she had had previous experience in this area, having had surgery years before to remove a melanoma from her back.

Such reports are a timely reminder of the importance of protecting one’s skin. “Many of the patients I see have had significant sun exposure,” explains Dr. Freitas. “Whether that’s from being active outside at the beach, or the use of tanning beds, which used to be quite common. To be safe, every adult should be seeing a board-certified dermatologist yearly for a comprehensive skin exam.”

If the dermatologist finds anything of concern, they may recommend surgical treatment. “I treat a dozen patients a week in the office for skin cancer excisions,” Dr. Freitas says. “This is usually a quick in-office procedure, and you can get back to your normal activities within a day.”

Dr. Alessandrina M. Freitas, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon at White Plains Hospital.
Dr. Alessandrina M. Freitas, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon at White Plains Hospital.

Here are Dr. Freitas’ top 5 tips for keeping your skin healthy:

Wear sunscreen (SPF 30+ year-round). SPF (sun protection formula) is used to ascertain how much solar energy (UV radiation) is required to produce sunburn on sunscreen-protected skin relative to the amount of solar energy needed to produce sunburn on unprotected skin. The higher the SPF, the more sunburn protection is created. An SPF below 15 provides little protection; 15 to 29 equals medium protection; 30 to 49 gives you high protection; and 50 and above results in very high protection.

Look for kids’ swimwear with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor). Many swimsuits and rash guards for children – and adults – now offer UPF protection. Similar to SPF, UPF is the rating system used to determine a clothing item’s effectiveness at filtering both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) light. Both rays can factor into developing sunburn as well as skin cancers. Again, the higher the UPF number, the more protection you will receive.

Opt for a wide-brimmed hat for maximum sun protection.

Inspect any moles regularly for changes in their size, shape, color, or feel; such alterations may be indicative of melanoma. These changes can occur in an existing mole, or melanoma may appear as a new or unusual-looking mole.

Look for “ugly ducklings” – moles that stand out from the others. Most of these will appear similar to each other, but if you have one (or more) that is suspiciously different in appearance, you should seek the advice of a dermatologist sooner rather than later.

See your dermatologist yearly. To find the right provider for you, call 914-849-MyMD (6963).

By all means, enjoy your time outside in the sun this summer. But remember to keep your skin protected!

Dr. Alessandrina M. Freitas is board-certified in general surgery and plastic and reconstructive surgery. To make an appointment, call 914-683-1400.