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NP Perspectives: Summer skin care


By Kristin L Castine, DNP, ANP-BC Assistant Professor

Summer is a great time to get outdoors and take advantage of the warmer weather. It is also a time to be especially conscientious of skin care. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Steps need to be taken to keep your skin in optimal condition to prevent future health problems. This article will review some measures that can help.

The skin is part of the integumentary system. It serves as the body’s first line of defense against infection, injury, and sun exposure. While sun exposure can offer some benefits  (increased activity, improved mental health), there are risks with too much exposure. Premature aging, changes in skin texture, and skin cancer can all be consequences of excess sun. 

Measures to ensure skin health year-round include limiting bathing time, daily moisturizing, adequate hydration and rest, healthy diet, and sun exposure protection. Seeking shade, using protective clothing, wearing a wide brimmed hat, and applying sunscreen every 2 hours can all serve as protective measures for the skin. Avoidance of artificial tanning is important as well.  Despite popular beliefs, there is no safe way to tan. Tanning indicates skin damage and accelerates aging and cancer risks.

What type and how much sunscreen should be used? Make sure your sunscreen offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays. It should be at least 15 – 30 SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and applied to all exposed areas (1 oz or “shot glass” sufficient). Re-application every 2 hours is essential.

In addition to good skin care maintenance, consider assessing your skin for changes reguarly.  Look for new skin growths, persistent sores, or changes in moles. If discovered, visit your health care provider.  Skin cancers have a high cure rate, if detected early.  If in doubt, get checked out.

Happy summer!