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Fourth of July Sun Smarts

Photo used with permission from Dove
Dove Men+Care

Ah, men. While we fill our beach bags with SPF, aloe, waterproof everything, sun hats, sunglasses, and the latest issue of Us Weekly, guys seem to think that heading out the door sans product is no problem leaving them prone to burns and other sun issues. So we thought we'd give them a little refresher… consider it a gift from the fairer sex.

Enter Dr. Benabio, San Diego-based dermatologist and Dove Men+Care Expert. He sat down with us to answer a few sun q's to ensure we're all protected this Fourth of July weekend.

4th of July is coming up - what are some of the things we need to watch for in terms of sun smarts?

Keep track of the time you’re spending in the sun and don’t forget to reapply product! If you’re swimming or just sitting in the sun, you’re supposed to re-apply every 2 hours: it’s crucial to preventing burns. Also remember that the sun peaks at noon, which means it’s at its most powerful—and you’re most likely to burn. Last is that water reflects the sun, so it’s almost double the exposure you’ll get on land.

We all know to wear sunscreen at this point, but what are some sun-smart tips we may be surprised to hear?

Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses are always a “do,” especially to protect the super-sensitive skin around your eyes—and I always recommend patients grab a caftan or cover-up before heading to the beach. But, I also remind patients to drink lots of water and make sure they’re well-hydrated throughout the day. Alcohol, excessive salt or intense exercise has a tendency to dehydrate and heat stroke is a real danger if you’re outside in the sun too long. Make sure you’re aware of the symptoms before you hit the beach.

Over the holiday many of us will be spending time on the water, which increases sun exposure and risk of burn, what are some tips to keep us protected?

Make sure you use a sunscreen and double check it’s labeled “broad-spectrum.” This means it protects against both UVB and UVA rays, guarding you from sunburns and skin cancer. If you are going to spend time in the water, wear a rash guard for additional protection.

How bad is it really if we do get burned? And why? What is happening to your skin when that happens?

A sunburn is an actual radiation burn of your skin. The ultraviolet light from the sun damaged the DNA of your skin cells, triggering these cells to die (which is a good thing since you don’t want mutated cells hanging around, causing trouble). The dead cells trigger release of inflammatory signals called cytokines that lead to redness, swelling, and pain. The dead cells will slough off in a few days leading to peeling and often uncomfortable itching.

Any sunburn is damaging to your skin, but the more severe the burn, say, one accompanied with blistering, fever and chills, the worse the damage. In fact, we know that one blistering sunburn in childhood will more than double a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life. A person's risk for melanoma also doubles if she or he has had five or more sunburns at any age.

What would you suggest for somebody with a mild burn in terms of treatment?

For burns, I recommend first placing a cold, damp towel on your skin. Then apply aloe vera or a mild moisturizer to help soothe your skin. If you have a severe sunburn, take ibuprofen to relieve the pain and drink lots of water. If after a few days the redness does not go down, visit your local dermatologist. Also make sure you’re bathing with something mild—highly scented moisturizers have a tendency to irritate the skin, which is why I recommend Dove products to my patients.

What about people with darker skin tones who don't typically burn - do they need to be as cautious?

Absolutely, skin protection is not just for those with fair skin. While dark skin is less likely to get sunburned and develop skin cancer, you still need to be cautious. Skin cancer amongst patients with darker skin is typically more advanced and more difficult to treat.

Should we do anything on Monday to "rehab" our skin so to speak?

To “rehab” your skin, use a mild cleanser, like those from Dove Men+Care, that restores moisture to your skin. The brand is highly regarded in the dermatology community and it’s one I recommend regularly. I like their Hydrate+ Face Wash, and their Clean Comfort Body and Face Wash, which is mild enough to soothe irritation. Make sure you drink lots of water and continue to wear SPF daily, too. Try to stay out of the sun and cover up where you can.

What are your favorite safe sun products for both protection and treatment?

I like rash guards with SPF built-in—they’re easily found online and the long sleeve variants are my favorite. Umbrellas, water bottles and broad-brimmed hats are definitely in my beach bag as well. Also, Dove Men+Care has added Hydrate+ Face Lotion with SPF to their offerings—which is a great idea for men not yet using an SPF product.