What are your Skin Care Issues with Sun and Tanning Exposure

Dr. Jan Peter Dank, MD, Dermatologist, discusses skin care with sun and tanning exposure.

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Dr. Jan Peter Dank, MD, Dermatologist, discusses skin care with sun and tanning exposure.
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Featuring Dr. Jan Peter Dank, MD, Dermatologist

Duration: 3 minutes, 11 seconds

To prevent yourself from getting skin cancer, you need to protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation. 

Ultraviolet radiation is primarily from the sun, but it’s also from tanning booths. The World Health Organization recently classified tanning booths as a major carcinogen. Sun protection includes sunscreen, but there's two important steps before sunscreen use. 

The first is using the brain. When you’re outside, there’s good things about being outside. The good things are: it’s nice, it’s sunny, you’re exercising, it’s good for your health. But like all things, there are some things that counter that, and for being outside, it’s the ultraviolet damage that’s being done to your skin.  

So use your brain. When you’re outside, minimize your sun exposure just like when you’re driving you wear a seatbelt.

Shade is the second step. Shade is portable. You can put on hats, sleeves and sunglasses and protect your skin and your eyes directly from sun damage. 

Lastly, is sunscreen. Sunscreens should be applied to the skin in the half hour before you go into the sun, and they should be reapplied two to three hours later because they wear off. The most important time to be protecting yourself from the sun is in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest. That’s generally the two to three hours around noon in the winter, and the three to four hours around noon in the summer.  

When you’re looking for a sunscreen, it’s gonna have an SPF factor. The SPF factor reflects how well it protects you from ultraviolet B radiation and sunburn. Look for one that’s a 25 or above.

But it’s not just the sunburn and the ultraviolet B that’s important; it’s also ultraviolet A. This isn’t rated. Currently, they just say there’s either broad spectrum or ultraviolet A protection, and the sunscreen should be labeled as having that if it’s a good sunscreen. 

Ingredients to look for in sunscreen include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These are physical agents that reflect the sun rays away. Sunscreens are chemicals that absorb the radiation of the sun and don’t provide as much protection as the mineral agents – but tend to be less opaque and so make the skin – the screen more transparent. 

They include Mexoryl and Parasol, as well as cinnamates and PABAs. The downside of being out of the sun is not getting enough vitamin D. However, vitamin D is very well absorbed as a supplement. 

In fact, it’s better absorbed than it is produced from sunlight. You don’t wanna get colon cancer from too low vitamin D while you’re protecting yourself from getting skin cancer.  

Another motivation for staying out of the sun can be keeping your skin looking younger and healthier. If you’re a young person and you imagine yourself being 39, you want your skin to look 30. If you want it to look 50 when you’re 39, go out, get sun and tan.  

If you have any questions about sun protection and sunscreens, talk to your dermatologist, your general physician, your pharmacist or an esthetician.  

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Presenter: Dr. Jan Peter Dank, Dermatologist, Bellingham, WA

Local Practitioners: Dermatologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.