Sun Protection 101
Along with sunscreen, there are other things you can do to protect yourself from sunlight. Sun-protective clothing is a good option when you know you’re going to be in the sun for extended periods of time. Coolibar and Solumbra and two clothing brands Dr. Carl Thornfeldt recommends, but there are many companies coming into the industry every day. You want sun protective clothing with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of 50 or higher. We also recommend wearing a cloth hat with a 4- to 5-inch-wide brim all the way around when out in the sun. If you’re nervous about ordering a hat online, we have a great retail display of hats from the Oregon-based company SunDay Afternoons in our waiting room at CT Derm. Don’t forget to protect your eyes with UV sunglasses!
There is also a supplement that you can take to help protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays. Ultraviolet A rays penetrate deep into your skin and damage it, causing a tan. Ultraviolet A radiation is primarily used in tanning beds. Ultraviolet B rays are the reason your skin sunburns, along with causing skin cancers.
HelioCare is made from the Polypodium leucotomos fern that is found in Central and South America. The antioxidants help protect your skin from harmful rays and aging. Our providers recommend that you take two capsules in the morning with breakfast. Some patients take it year round, while others only take it during the spring and summer. It takes about two weeks before the HelioCare is fully effective, so start two weeks prior to any warm-weather vacation. This supplement does not replace your sunscreen or sun-protective clothing, but adds another layer of protection.
Did you know that there are certain times of the day you can get less sun exposure when outdoors? Our providers recommend doing your outdoor activities before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. The UV rays are the strongest between those times. If that does not work for you, make sure you have shade available and have your sun-protective clothing, sunscreen, and HelioCare on board to protect yourself.
I am someone who struggles with autoimmune disease and sun sensitivity. Sun protection makes a big difference during the times of year I struggle the most. I love working in dermatology, and I am constantly learning something beneficial for my health.