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Summer Safety: Prisma Health provides tips for summer skincare to help prevent long-term damage

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

GREENVILLE, S.C.—Taking care of your skin is important at all times, but especially during the summer months when more time is spent outside. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are strongest during this time of year and excessive exposure to these harmful rays can be damaging to the skin – resulting in sunburn, premature aging or skin cancer.

“We all look forward to having a little fun in the sun, but failure to protect your skin when you’re outdoors can be painful and dangerous,” said Kimberly Frick, NP, a family nurse practitioner at Prisma Health Family Medicine in Columbia. “Our skin is our largest organ, and it shields us from a number of harmful elements. Keeping it properly hydrated and protected is critical to leading a healthy life.”

Staying inside is the best protection from the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when its UV rays are strongest, but venturing outdoors is unavoidable for most. Prisma Health offers the following tips for skin protection from the sun:

Wear protective clothing, like a wide brimmed hat to protect your face, neck and ears. Temperatures in South Carolina can be high, but if you’ll be directly exposed to the sun for a long period of time, consider covering your arms and legs with loose fitting clothing. And don’t forget your sunglasses! Choose a pair that blocks 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays.

Always use sunscreen. The American Cancer Society recommends broad spectrum products with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreen should be applied on all exposed areas of your body at least 20 minutes before going outside. This includes your ears, the back of your neck, feet and the top of your head if you do not have hair for protection. Remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially if swimming or toweling off frequently. There is no such thing as “waterproof” sunscreen.

Seek shade whenever possible. While trees and canopies do not provide complete protection from the sun, they do lessen your exposure. An umbrella at the beach or pool can also provide protection while allowing you to enjoy the warm temperatures.

Don’t forget to protect your child’s skin, too. When choosing sunscreen for your little ones, look for products containing a physical blocker like zinc oxide. This includes for babies who have smaller amounts of melanin than older children and adults and can burn quicker. If your child has light colored or thin hair, be sure to apply sunscreen to that area as well and incorporate hats into their daily routine. And teach your teenagers about the risks of tanning. They should never visit a tanning bed or purposely lay in the sun. Sunless tanning creams are the safest option.

Short term overexposure to the sun could result in sunburn whereas prolonged overexposure could lead to premature aging, blinding eye diseases or skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and typically forms on the areas of the body that are most exposed to UV radiation.

“Unlike many forms of cancer, skin cancer is preventable,” added Jeremiah Miller, MD, a dermatologist with Prisma Health in Greenville. “Overexposure to UV rays, whether purposely through tanning or from failure to protect your skin, is the number one cause of skin cancer and something that is avoidable. Cover up when you go outdoors and never skip sunscreen. If at any time you find any new markings, sores or moles on your skin, make an appointment with your doctor.”

About Prisma Health

Prisma Health is a not-for-profit health company and the largest healthcare system in South Carolina. With nearly 30,000 team members, 18 acute care and specialty hospitals, 2,947 beds, approximately 300 outpatient sites, and nearly 5,000 employed and clinically integrated network physicians and providers, Prisma Health serves more than 1.2 million unique patients annually in its 21-county market area that covers 50% of South Carolina. Prisma Health’s goal is to improve the health of all South Carolinians by enhancing clinical quality, the patient experience and access to affordable care, as well as conducting clinical research and training the next generation of medical professionals. For more information, visit PrismaHealth.org.

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