Summer Skincare Basics
Your skin needs extra care to ward off dangers from the summer sun as well as potentially harmful bites from mosquitoes and ticks.
1. To avoid mosquito-transmitted illness, CDC experts urge consumers to use mosquito repellents containing the approved ingredients DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Apply on exposed skin or clothing while outside during insect season.
2. Sunscreens help prevent squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. Products made with either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide such as those by Baby Blanket[R] provide a physical barrier from the sun's damaging rays. Don't use sunscreen on babies younger than six months.
3. Wear a hat. One with a four-inch brim protects areas often exposed to the sun, including the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp. Baseball-type caps provide some protection for the top of the head but not the neck or the ears, where skin cancers commonly develop.
Shopper's Guide to Sun Safety
Read labels carefully when selecting products to help keep you and your family safe in the sun.
Sun protection factor (SPF) measures protection from ultraviolet-B rays--but not ultraviolet-A radiation, a key cause of skin wrinkling and leathering. "Broad-spectrum protection" on sunscreen labels indicates the product shields against both types of solar radiation. Sunscreens with SPFs of 30 and containing avobenzone, zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide block 97 percent of UVB rays and the entire UV-A spectrum.
The American National Standards Institute sets UV standards for eyewear. Look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation. The phrase "UV absorption up to 400 nm" on labels is equivalent to 100 percent UV absorption. Labels that say "special purpose" or "meeting ANSI UV requirements" mean the glasses block at least 99 percent of UV rays. Those labeled "cosmetic" block about 70 percent. If there is no label, don't buy the sunglasses.
Be Your Own Medical Detective
Sun exposure is a major risk factor in malignant melanoma, a life-threatening skin cancer that has been striking increasing numbers of adults in the past few decades. Now, doctors warn that the disease is on the rise among children and teens. While pediatric cases are still rare, parents and physicians are urged to closely monitor suspicious or changing moles in children.
Research from Italian doctors suggests that melanoma lesions in children may look lighter than those in adults and have well-defined rather than irregular borders. A digital camera and stickers like the one below can help track skin lesions with ease and accuracy.
Photo stickers to document skin lesions are available by calling Nancy at 1-800-558-2376. Each sheet contains 80 stickers. The price is $10.00 for ten sheets (includes p&h) or $1 per sheet + $2 p&h.
Lycopene: Nature's Sunblock
Looking for extra protection from sunburn? Try eating plenty of tomatoes, say some experts. Tests show that UV exposure reduces levels of the antioxidant lycopene in the skin and blood, leaving beta-carotene amounts unchanged. The results suggest that lycopene may be working to counteract UV-induced skin damage. Lycopene in foods and supplements can never replace an SPF 15+ sunscreen but seems to enhance a sunscreens effect by providing a sun protection factor of between two and four--from the inside.
In Europe, the use of lycopene as an internal sun blocker and wrinkle-preventing cosmetic agent is a multimillion-dollar-a-year business.
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