By Bill Murphy MD, Medical Director, Turquoise Springs Medical Spa
My favorite poet, Jimmy Buffett, wrote in his song, “Sunshine” the following lyrics:
“Sunshine, Can’t get enough sunshine,
I’m following the sunshine, Beating down on me.
I never even mind the rain,
But life’s really driving me insane,
Here’s my story, sad but true,
Things are better when skies are blue.”
I am at the Cancun airport, at the end of a wonderful week with family in Playa del Carmen, waiting to fly to our home in central Texas. Yes, I love the Riviera Maya, and I love the sun, just like you. I love to play golf, garden, bicycle, watch my grandchildren’s sports events, and float in the pool while listening to music. All are outside and in the sun! The sun is actually good for our health in many ways. Vitamin D, a pro hormone, is made by sunlight and is important for our bone health and for a strong immune system. Sunshine is a direct determinant of mood, with more depression in places with less sunny days. We love the sun, and if we can’t avoid it, let’s learn how to live with it and enjoy it.
In the short term, the trouble can start in the form of skin irritation or, moderate burn or severe sunburn with blistering of the skin. Long-term damage to skin cells and collagen, with early aging, fine lines, wrinkles, and brown spots can occur. It is also possible to be more susceptible over time to various skin cancers like basal cell, squamous cell, and malignant melanoma.
Sunscreens, sun blockers, and other forms of skin protection are the primary tools to use to avoid trouble. First, choose an excellent sunscreen for face and body. To properly choose, some information about how they work is helpful. The sun produces UVA rays, which cause “Aging” and UVB rays, which cause the skin to “Burn.” A good sunscreen will do its job in two different ways depending on the ingredients. Some additives “screen” out the UVA and UVB rays by up to 97% if the SPF is 30 or higher. If Zinc oxide or Titanium dioxide, which are “blockers” are present, they deflect the rays away rather than screen them. The screeners and the blockers can be combined very effectively to work together. In years past, sunblock was not popular because it would make skin appear to have a white tint, but modern techniques use micronized formulations in sunscreens and makeup, so this does not happen.
You should select a broad-spectrum sunscreen with agents that effectively block UVA and UVB, with an SPF of more than 30, non-toxic, and water resistant. At Turquoise Springs, our Aqua Marine Sport Body fits these requirements with an SPF of 40 and 7% Zinc oxide. Our Quartz Face and Body Ultralite is SPF 50 with 14.8% Zinc oxide. Mechanical blockers such as umbrellas, palm trees, a floppy hat, long sleeve shirts with UPF (ultraviolet protective fabric), and light breathable fabrics that are cool yet protective are vitally important, too.
Post-sun exposure care is important as well. It is vital to replace hydration, orally to replace fluid loss, and topically to rehydrate the skin. Caring for skin should first include a cool shower, as hot water causes further dehydration. Then, apply a hydrating cream, aloe Vera gel, or a potent hydrating agent like hyaluronic acid gel.
We live in a beautiful part of the country with sunny days the year around, not just in the summer. The professionals at Turquoise Springs are here to help you enjoy the sun while keeping your skin healthy, youthful in appearance, fresh, and “sun-kissed” not sun damaged!
For more information, visit turquoisesprings.com.