Sensible Sun Guidelines - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Sensible Sun Guidelines

By Rachel Leigh - bio | email

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL (WFLX) - Summer has come and gone, and, obviously, living in South Florida, many of our summer activities revolved around the great outdoors. But while we were busy soaking up the sun, its rays were also busy at work -- damaging our skin. Now, it's time to pay for our sinful sun-filled summer.

Dr. Steven Shapiro, with Gardens Dermatology, has his newest patient. "She has melasma in between my two fingers right here. You have freckles from the sun on the nose. In the middle, there's a loss of pigmentation from some sunburns. Your nose, from this point forward, cannot have anymore sunburns. Around the upper lip, and in the chin, there's the melasma again. And there's probably a little bit through the checks."

This is not something anyone wants to hear – especially at 25 years old. But that's my diagnosis. "There are topical creams; typically, prescription strength is what we recommend. They're a little bit stronger, but they are a slow process to bleach."

Dr. Shapiro recommends treating me with an intense pulse light. "It's basically a wand that's taken over the entire face. The brown spots will typically become a little bit darker within a few days, and then they'll superficially crust or flake – almost like small pieces of pepper. Then, they just fall off. "Under the microscope, it shows the cells become more normal from the sun damage, as well, so it may have some long-term benefits to keep away skin cancer at the same time."

And looking to the summer ahead, here's how you can avoid ending up in my situation.

First, if you have children, make sure you instill in them the importance of sunscreen. "Seventy-five percent of your sun damage is done by age 18. That's in terms of the sun hitting the skin, and the activating cells in the skin that will show up many years later because of sun damage."

Second, you must alter your habits to match your surroundings. "Well, the first thing you have to realize, the sun is much stronger here then it is in other parts of the country. There's been a depletion of the ozone layers, so, even though, the sun is stronger here, it's much stronger than it's ever been in years before. So we're dealing with something that can create more damage. So your sunscreen is the best place to start."

Third, don't think any old sunscreen will do the job. "I personally believe it's expiration date is one year after you buy it. So in our house, every spring, we throw out all the sunscreen and buy new sunscreen."

Fourth, read the label. You want the one that blocks UVA and UVB Rays. "If it says all day or time-released, than it's even better, so you don't have to reapply ever two hours which most people forget to reapply sunscreen."

Lastly, Dr. Shapiro says you're first 10 minutes of sun are free. "That's how long it takes to get your Vitamin D.

So don't skip out on the sunscreen as we wait for another fun-filled summer in the sun.

Copyright 2010 WFLX. All Rights Reserved.

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