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Patients interested in learning more about common skin conditions, and what can be done to treat them, will find our series of articles on skin care educational. Dwana R. Shabazz, M.D, M.P.H. is a regular contributor to FairFax Woman Magazine, where she posts a new article each month.  Subjects include:

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The Rules of Sun Protection

Sun protection is necessary all year round. Now that it is officially summer, these practices have to be implemented more diligently. There are several ways to achieve good sun protection. The most extreme way to ensure one’s skin is protected is to try to avoid sun exposure. However, it has to be remembered that the ultraviolet A (UVA) rays can still penetrate the windows in the car and offices. Besides, with all the summer has to offer, who would want to be that drastic. Secondly, sun protective clothing can be worn. When choosing this type of clothing, it is still recommended to ensure there is a minimum of 30 as a sun protective factor (SPF). Inevitably, clothing is not going to protect the entire body surface, thus the most common method of protecting the skin is with the use of sunscreen.

Sunscreen use is a very effective way to protect the skin as long as it is used properly. The ingredients, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are physical blockers and are the most protective. However, they are often not considered aesthetically pleasing, especially in certain skin types. Companies are constantly improving products with these ingredients, therefore, it should still be considered. The minimum SPF used should be 30.

Many people use sunscreen regularly, but one should not forget to reapply it at least every 2 hours. Furthermore, areas of the body often forgotten are the ears, scalp (men and women with thinning hair or if hair is styled with a part), and feet (when wearing sandals or flip flops). If sunscreen sprays are being used, rub it in so that there are no skipped areas. When applying sunscreen to the face, keep in mind there are many products suitable for various skin types. For example, there are sunscreens for acne prone skin, sensitive skin, and even sunscreens with anti-aging properties. Many make-ups have an SPF added to it.

The summer season requires a more focused approach in protecting the skin. Nonetheless, sun protection should be an annual practice. To that end, the last summer tip is to stock up on sunscreen during the summer, as many retailers have limited selection once the summer ends. Another alternative is to purchase it in the doctor’s office where the selection remains consistent throughout the year and can be better tailored to your skin type.

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