Whether you’re a Floridian or just visiting, chances are, you’ll be heading outside to play.
Ninety-six percent of residents and 98 percent of tourists say enjoying outdoor recreation in Florida is important to them. The three most popular activities? Going to the beach; looking at wildlife and bicycling, according to a recent survey.
Those of us who live here are far more likely to be doing those things in the fall, when our steamy summers melt into lower humidity and temperatures.
“A lot of public service messages about sun precautions go out in the summer, when those of us who live here tend to limit our outdoors time to early mornings and evenings,” says Adam J. Scheiner, M.D., a cosmetic surgeon who’s been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, The Howard Stern Show and The Doctors.
“The far more dangerous hours for sun exposure are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We’re much more likely to be outside during those times in the fall and winter.”
No matter how comfortable the temperature feels, Dr. Scheiner says, don’t be fooled! “We’re not far from the equator – it’s less than 1,800 miles from Miami – which means we’re exposed to more sun more of the time than places farther from the equator,” he says. “Earlier this summer, the surgeon general predicted 9,000 people will die from melanoma this year. That’s preventable.
“If skin cancer doesn’t scare you, think with your vanity. Sun exposure is the No. 1 cause of wrinkles, discoloration, age spots and festoons, among other disfiguring problems.”
Dr. Scheiner shares tips for preventing, minimizing and repairing sun damage:
Prevention: “Anytime you go outside, you’re exposing yourself to damaging UVB and UVA rays, and the result is cumulative. A little bit here and a little there adds up,” Scheiner says.
Simply driving a car can result in serious sun damage. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found more skin cancers on the left side of patients’ faces – the side exposed while driving – than the right. Scheiner says he’s seen truckers and others who spend years on the road with severe wrinkling on the left side of the face.
“Always wear sunscreen, which protects against UVA and UVB rays. I recommend a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30, preferably higher,” he says. “You can also protect yourself from UVA rays, which cause deeper damage, by applying UV-protective film to your car windows. Also, wear clothes with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating of at least 30.”
Eat foods rich in antioxidants — carrots and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables; spinach and other green leafy vegetables; tomatoes; blueberries; peas and beans; fatty fish, and nuts. An American Society for Clinical Nutrition study found that women ages 40 to 75 who consumed more vitamin C, an antioxidant, had fewer wrinkles.
Use exfoliant creams to remove dead skin cells. Prescription creams including Avita, Avage, Renova and Retin-A have been shown to reduce wrinkles and age spots caused by sun exposure.
Repairing: Lasers can resurface facial skin by stripping away the outermost layers. Some “non-ablative” lasers also stimulate collagen formation, which helps smooth wrinkles.
Dr. Scheiner uses RESET® Laser Skin Resurfacing, to reverse the damage and remove many pre-cancers and even active skin cancers. The treatment vaporizes the old skin and causes the collagen in the underlying layers to tighten.