of Healthy Living
The Keys to Beautiful
By Dr. Colin Trout
One of the most common problems my
patients have is sun-damaged skin. Over the years ultraviolet
radiation from the sun causes dyspigmentation (abnormal
color), atrophy (thinning), and rhytids (wrinkles).
While there are many medications,
products, and procedures that can help improve the
appearance of sun-damaged skin, the best way to have
beautiful skin is to prevent the damage from ever occurring.
I know that here in Arizona it is extremely difficult
to completely avoid the sun, but there are several
things you can do to significantly reduce your exposure,
and thereby limit the damage to your skin and the need
for restorative treatment.
The first step is to minimize your
outdoor activities during the peak daylight hours (11:00
a.m. to 2:00p.m. in the winter and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m.
in the summer). The second step is protective clothing,
including long sleeves, pants, and a broad-brimmed
hat, which are more effective than sunscreens since
clothing can block the sun’s rays, provided the
weave of the cloth is tight enough. The last layer
of protection is sunscreen. Obviously, here in Arizona
this is what most of us depend on for our protection
against the sun since we are outside frequently during
the day, and the normal attire is shorts and a short
There are a few keys to using sunscreen
appropriately that I would like to emphasize. The main
key is to use enough of the sunscreen. Studies have
shown that most of us use approximately 25% of the
recommended amount, which manufacturers use to determine
SPF (sun protection factor). What this means is that
even if you have a sunscreen that is SPF 65, it becomes
an SPF of 2.8 when you use one quarter of the normal
amount. The other key is to use sunscreen daily. If
you apply sunscreen to the same area every day, the
SPF factor increases significantly because the skin
retains a portion of it for several days. It will also
protect you during those times that you find yourself
outside when you didn’t expect to be there.
If you follow these simple guidelines
you can keep your skin beautiful longer, minimize the
amount of restorative treatment, and reduce your risk
of skin cancer.