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  • Writer's pictureDr. Carin Litani

Back to the Beach

Finally! Our highly anticipated coveted summer is here in full swing. Well kind of…it’s hit or miss here in New England but nonetheless, I am loving the long days. Despite the many rainy days, I have seen more than a handful of sunburns during my skin checks.

Do I get mad? No. Disappointed? Maybe a little. I get it though. It’s a full on commitment to avoid the sun and keep our skin protected. I’m here to give you some tips and to tell you to just do the best you can. I’m always here to fix the damage and cut out any cancers you may develop.

First of all … the summer season is short and we all need to take advantage of the long balmy days, so, no hiding indoors! Shade and sunscreen are your friends. So here’s some advice:

  • Find a sunscreen you like and use it. All the time. Reapply! Reapply! Reapply! Check out my instagram posts on sunscreen brands, high and low end, that I tested out and my sunscreen truths and myths. Patients tell me all the time that they apply sunscreen in the morning. Okay, that’s a first step. But what about that 5 pm walk with your dog? Or that afternoon trip to the playground with your kids? If you can see the sun, then the sun can see your skin. I like the Elta MD body lotion for those afternoon reapplications (don’t forget the chest/neck/tops and back of shoulders) because it’s not icky sticky. It’s super smooth, light and easy to apply.

  • Before going to beach, please apply your sunscreen naked. I always see burns at bathing suit lines.

  • Please consider wearing a sun shirt, aka rashguard, at the beach and pool or anytime you are around water. I’m sure the kids in your life are in sun shirts

because it’s hard and slippery to apply sunscreen all over their torsos. Well, truth be told, it’s the same for us adults. I find it annoying to apply sunscreen all over my torso at the pool and my husband never gets an even coat on my back. So I wear a sun shirt … literally every time I’m around water. There are cute ones now. I have so many in so many fun colors, although my white zippered ones are my faves. Check out J. Crew, Rei sports, Mott 50, Coolibar, Amazon, LL Bean, Carve designs, Solumbra and Cabana life. Many high end designers make them as well and they can be found at most department stores. And pick up some for your husband as well.

  • Many of the companies listed above also make sun protective clothing that look like real clothes to wear while playing golf or tennis or just strolling about in the sun. A patient told me about ibkul because their tops are vented in the sleeves so she feels protected and not overheated while golfing. I love learning from my patients!

  • Wear a wide brimmed hat. Enough said.

  • It’s one thing to be active in the sun but another to just sit in the sun for no reason. Tanning releases endorphins and is addictive. Yes, it may feel good at the time but you will pay the price later. So if you are not gardening, or exercising, sit in the shade. There is just no good reason to sit and get sun anymore.

I’m sure you have heard the saying before by other dermatologists and I’ll reiterate it again: Nothing looks better in your 50s than sunscreen in your 20s.

Okay, so you got burned. Now what?

  • Cool down that skin asap! Take frequent cool baths or showers or apply a cool damp washcloth to the burned areas frequently.

  • After washing with cool water, leave some water on your skin then apply a soothing light moisturizer to trap that water into your skin and keep it hydrated. Avoid heavy greasy oil based creams/ointments (like vaseline) as they can trap heat in the skin. Also steer clear of dehydrating

alcohol based products and any “pain relieving” products that contain benzocaine or lidocaine which can irritate the skin. Moisturizers that contain aloe vera or soy help soothe sunburned

skin. Some examples include: Coola radical recovery moisturizing lotion, Cerave Daily moisturizing lotion, Neutrogena HydroBoost Water gel,Burts bees after sun soother, Banana Boat Soothing after sun gel, sun Bum Cool down spray.

  • Use an over the counter hydrocortisone cream to more red or painful areas to help calm down inflammation. Apply your moisturizer over this.

  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

  • Take aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce swelling, redness and discomfort.

  • Wear loose clothing that covers the affected skin as your sunburn heals.

  • Do not pop a blister or peel flaking skin. The top of the blister is like a biological bandaid to protect the raw skin under it. Popping a blister will increase your risk for infection and scarring or discoloration.

  • See your doctor if you have severe swelling or extensive blistering. Also if you have any fevers, chills, headache, confusion or nausea.

Have a happy, fun summer with enough accessible shade and colorful rash guards!


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