The temperature is rising and flowers are blooming, which means spring has finally arrived. Unfortunately, the new season and perfect weather comes with a price: skin damage from the sun.
However, Christopher Conner, a dermatologist from Vitalogy Skincare in San Marcos, said there are plenty of ways to keep the skin healthy and safe during the spring and summer times.
Everyone knows sunscreen should be worn at all times to protect the skin from harmful rays. However, Conner said sunscreen does nothing at all if it’s not being used and applied properly.
“People just slap on a little bit, call it good and that is the end of it,” Conner said. “However, sunscreen only lasts about three to four hours.”
Carefully reading the labels and instructions the manufacturer prints on the bottle is a great way to stay protected.
“You also have to remember that sunscreen takes about 15 to 20 minutes before it does any good at all,” Conner said. “If you go outside and then you put it on, it is too late and you are going to get 15 or 20 minutes of sun exposure, which doesn’t seem like very much, but at noon in Texas, (it) is a lot of sun exposure.”
Mariela Rebolledo, anthropology freshman, said she rarely thinks about putting on sunscreen.
“I never put sunscreen on, even though I know that I am doing harm to my skin,” Rebolledo said.
If students know they are not going to take the time to apply sunscreen thoroughly and properly, Conner said the best alternative for sunscreen is to wear sun-protective clothing.
“They make all kinds of very effective, inexpensive and easy to find clothes that are cool, lightweight and well-ventilated,” Conner said. “It also works when wet, so it is still going to protect you, whereas sunscreen might wash off.”
Another way to keep the skin healthy during the spring is to stay hydrated. Conner recommends people drink water every time they feel thirsty.
“Drinks that have alcohol don’t substitute for liquid. It actually dehydrates you. Same for things with a lot of caffeine,” Conner said. “Sports drinks have a lot of calories in them and a lot of salt, so you really should mainly drink just water.”
Getting a tan during the spring and summer is a common thing to do as young adult, but Conner advises against it—especially tanning beds.
“There are a couple of medical conditions that we recommend tanning beds for, like psoriasis, but those are the only circumstances that you should ever go to a tanning bed,” Dr. Conner said.
Leigh Ann Jenson, health education post-baccalaureate student, does not advocate for tanning and thinks there are too many risks involved.
“Once, in high school, I succumbed to peer pressure and did about 10 minutes in a tanning bed,” Jenson said. “It didn’t really do anything, and I realized how silly it was for someone as pale as me to be getting in a tanning bed. I’m fairly sure I would just get burned and eventually get skin cancer.”
Conner said tanning beds are just as dangerous as smoking, and there is no need for anyone to put themselves through any sort of treatment to tan.
“There isn’t an amount of smoking that is safe, and there also isn’t an amount of going to the tanning bed that is safe,” Conner said. “You just have to learn to love yourself and accept yourself as you are.”
It’s common for someone to get a sunburn at least once in their life. However, Conner advises it should only be a one-time experience.
“We know that people who have had five blistering sun burns in their lifetime hugely increase their chances of getting melanoma,” Conner said. “If it happens to you once, just start learning from your mistakes and start protecting yourself.”
Conner said skin cancer is common and can be dangerous, but is also preventable. Conner hopes by getting the attention of young people, he can inform them on how to properly take care of their skin to avoid any damage.
“When you are young, you sort of think that these things aren’t going to happen, but then you get to be my age—and I am 65—and you realize that the choices you made when you were 18 to 20 years old have now come back to haunt you,” Conner said.