Protecting yourself from the sun is an important part of both preventing and treating acne. Here's a few tips:
First and foremost, avoid sun exposure! Think of your skin as a tape recorder, recording every second of sun exposure your skin receives.
Walking to your car, driving during daylight hours, or just walking to lunch during your mid day break are all sources of exposure to ultraviolet light. Over your lifetime, these changes accumulate in the skin, ultimately showing themselves as dark spots, premature aging, and changes leading to the development of skin cancer.
Use Sun Block!
Using a sun block should be as routine as brushing your teeth. You should never leave your home during daylight hours without an application of a broad-spectrum sun block.
Look for one that is SPF 30 (a measure of ultraviolet B protection) and has ingredients that also block ultraviolet A rays. Although there is no convenient rating for ultraviolet A protection on the label of commercial sun blocks at this time, the Food and Drug Administration is making changes so that consumers will be able to identify sun blocks that offer the best protection for both types of ultraviolet light.
For now, ask your dermatologist to recommend an effective broad-spectrum sunblock. Be sure to apply your sun block liberally allowing time for it to be absorbed and rubbed in uniformly.
If you are planning to be out of doors for more than 30 minutes, you should carry sun block with you and reapply. It is never sufficient to apply sun block once in the morning and expect it to offer continued protection for the rest of the day.
Wear Sun Protective Clothing
Sun protective garments include a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses that protect against both ultraviolet A and B, long pants and long sleeved shirts that fit loosely and gloves when necessary.
Protect Your Environment
Glass windows in our cars do not screen out all of the ultraviolet rays. Therefore, we are continuously exposed to ultraviolet radiation while we drive. Using an ultraviolet screening film applied to the car’s windows is one way to limit one’s exposure.
Also, when enjoying outdoor activities such as the beach or sporting activities, using a parasol to block the sun is very helpful. Try to avoid outdoor exposures between 10 AM and 4 PM if at all possible. Also, remember that ultraviolet exposure is made worse in reflective environments such as near water or in snow or sand.
Never Use Tanning Beds
Despite mounting concern over the use of tanning beds and sun damage and skin cancer, many people continue to seek out this unwise behavior. Such purposeful ultraviolet light will lead to premature aging of the skin and increased risk of skin cancer including deadly melanoma. If a tan is a sought after look, consider using a sunless tanner for the same effects without dangerous ultraviolet exposure.
Tips for Proper Use of Sunblock
One of the most important principles of a healthy complexion is protection from the sun. In addition to causing acne to flare, sun exposure can damage the skin and darken spots of discoloration left behind from previous acne breakouts. While complete avoidance of sun exposure is not practical, the use of sun blocking creams is an important part of overall skin cancer prevention.
Here are some useful tips on sun block use:
- Everyone, regardless of skin tone, should use a broad-spectrum sun block with an SPF of 30.
- For best results, sun block should be reapplied approximately every 60 minutes during periods of intense sun exposure.
- Apply a sufficient amount of sun block to cover all sun-exposed areas. Don't be afraid to apply a thick film, covering all unclothed skin including the ears, nose, the back of the neck, arms, etc.
- Allow time for the sun block to absorb into your skin before going outside. Twenty to thirty minutes should be sufficient.
- There is no reliable way of measuring how resistant your sun block is to water. This depends on the duration, intensity and type of water-based activities you participate in. Therefore, frequent applications during water sports activities should be emphasized.
- Apply sun block every day, even during overcast days and even when you are not planning to encounter prolonged sun exposure.
- Do not rely on make-up or other skin care products that claim to include a sun block. These usually do not provide sufficient protection and may actually do more harm by giving a false sense of security in the sun. Therefore, always use a dedicated broad-spectrum sun block.
- Make sure you are informed about the ingredients of your sun block. Just because it says "broad spectrum" doesn't mean that it provides adequate protection. Also, sun blocks that are not greasy or easy to apply are not always the most protective. Discuss your choice of sun blocks with your dermatologist.
- Use a protective sun blocking film (not just a tint) on your vehicle's windows to block as much ultraviolet radiation as possible.