Soak Up Your Vitamin D…It’s Spring! But, Mind Your Risk

From ‘Feelin’ Good’ in Lake Norman Living
Soak Up Your Vitamin D…It’s Spring! But, Mind Your Risk.
Spring Cancer Review

By Dr. Naomi Simon

Vitamin D deficiencies are all too prevalent these days, but so is the instances of skin cancer. In fact, one in five people will develop skin cancer, which is now the most common cancer in the United States.

When spring rolls in, our natural tendency to gravitate to outdoor activities increases — great for soaking up Vitamin D. And, with proper care and consideration, you can soak up the sun and the benefits that come with it while still increasing your risk of developing skin cancer.

Dr. Naomi Simon, of Mooresville Dermatology Center shares her top tips for minimizing your risk this season:

 1. Pick your favorite sunscreen and wear it on all “sun exposed areas” every day. Generally, this means face, ears and hands. Incidental sun exposure accumulates just running errands and while driving. UVA rays penetrate car window glass. Even a 10-minute morning walk with the dog, sun exposure can add up over time. Men with little or no hair on their head should take particular care to wear sunscreen on the scalp.

2. Find a comfortable, wide-brimmed hat, and wear it whenever you are spending prolonged periods, 30 minutes or longer, in the sun. Sunscreen is critical. But in real life, we miss spots, forget to re-apply, miss the tops of our ears or get caught outside longer than we’d planned, so a hat provides an extra measure protection from these common errors. A quality hat helps prevent UV ray damage to the neck, nose, ears, face and scalp, which are some of the most common places for skin cancer.

3. Wear clothing. This sounds like common sense, but men should wear a shirt when cleaning the boat, washing the car or mowing the lawn. For women, choose a T-shirt with sleeves and higher neck rather than a sleeveless shirt when outdoors working or playing sports. The more clothing your put over your skin, the less you have to worry about constantly re-applying sunscreen.

4. Avoid outdoor activities from 10 am. to 2 p.m. These hours are considered peak UV hours. If you exercise or walk the dog outdoors, try to do it earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. Also, check the UV index in the local paper or online. According the Environmental Protection Agency, “The UV Index provides a forecast of the expected risk of overexposure to UV radiation from the sun.” If the index is greater than 5, stay out of the sun at peak hours that day. You can download a free phone app to check the index at www2.epa.gov/sunwise/uv-index.

5. Wear sunglasses that block 99 percent to 100 percent of UV rays. Radiation from the sun is a leading cause of cataracts, which can cause blindness if untreated or require surgery to correct. Ultraviolet rays can cause other issues with the eyes and vision and promotes skin cancer around the eyes.

6. Seek shade whenever you can. If you’re lounging around the pool or having an outdoor picnic, pick the shady spot or a table with an umbrella. If you own a boat, have a shade structure put in to protect you and your family. If you’re at the beach, invest in a beach tent or cabana that you can rotate or move along with the sun. If you have a convertible or sun roof on your car, avoid using during peak UV hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

7. Keep your kids protected during spring sports. One of the biggest concerns I have is how little protection our kids get during spring sports such as baseball and soccer. Take time to educate your children about applying sunscreen to all exposed areas at least 30 minutes before the game starts. Use a water-resistant/sweat-resistant sunscreen so they don’t sweat it off right away. Try to help them keep a hat on, or some form of protective head covering if they have thin hair or moles on their scalp. And if possible, stay under a shade structure as you watch the game.

It only takes a few extra minutes to protect your skin each day from what can be a deadly disease. So, before you settle into your outdoor spring routine, that’s ripe for soaking up sun and boosting Vitamin D, pick your preferred skin care products as soon as possible and get in the habit of careful application. And, don’t forget a few stylish, sun-blocking, additions to your wardrobe, too.

Doctor-recommended sunscreen use:

Apply 30 minutes before going outdoors. Re-apply every two to three hours, or after getting wet or heavily sweating. If using a spray — on sunscreen, spray until the skin no longer absorbs — it should appear shiny on the skin. If using a lotion or cream, use one ounce (enough to fill a shot glass), to cover exposed parts of the body. Look for broad-spectrum, water-resistant and SPF 30 or higher.

Over the counter sunscreen suggestions that work well, and are safe for use:

  • Blue Lizard Australian sunscreen, sensitive skin
  • Neutrogena Pure and Free sunscreen
  • California Baby everyday/year round broad spectrum sunscreen
  • Aveeno baby natural protection face stick
  • BabyGanics cover up baby sunscreen
  • CeraVe body lotion and CeraVe face lotion broad spectrum sunscreen
  • Coppertone Water Babies Pure and Simple sunscreen lotion
  • Kiss My Face Sport Treat Lip Balm, Mint, SPF 30

From the dermatologist’s office or by prescription:

  • Elta MD Physical, tinted sunscreen and other Elta MD sunscreens (ask your dermatologist which is best for your skin type)
  • Revision’s “Intellishade” tinted sunscreen
  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios Water Resistant Sunscreen Cream
  • Vanicream sunscreen or Vanicream Sport sunscreen

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