July 8, 2021
By Christine Cheng, R.Ph. and Fred Cheng, R.Ph.
Summertime means more time spent enjoying the beautiful outdoors of British Columbia, which is good for us in so many ways! However, while we enjoy the positive benefits of sunshine we must also protect ourselves from its negative effects. Not only can sun exposure cause painful sunburns, but it can hasten the aging process of the skin as well as contribute to the risk of skin cancer.
The very young and the very old tend to have thinner skin making it more sensitive to the burning effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Certain medications such as hydrochlorothiazide and furosemide (commonly used diuretics) as well as many antibiotics can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun making it burn more easily.
Wearing long-sleeved clothing, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat is the first layer of protection, especially for babies 6 months and younger as they should not use sunscreens yet. Whether you choose a chemical sunscreen (such as avobenzone, octisalate, octinoxate, and/or oxybenzone that interacts with UV to create heat that is then dissipated) or a physical sunscreen (such as zinc oxide that physically deflects UV rays from the skin), make sure you are applying enough and frequently. A general rule of thumb is 2-3 tablespoonfuls per body per application. Reapplication is important for sunscreen to be effective and should be done every 2 hours especially if you are being active and/or sweating. This is particularly important for physical sunscreens that tend to wash away easily with sweat or water exposure. For those who want to wear creams or makeup at the same time, make sure to apply the sunscreen first so that it has a chance to form a proper bond with your skin.
Other than sunscreen, there are products that can be taken internally to reduce the impact of sun exposure on the health of our skin. UV PROTECT from Innovite is a patented preparation of grapefruit and rosemary extract that has been shown to protect cell membranes against the damaging effects of UV radiation as well as protect the skin cell’s DNA from degradation. Although it improves the skin’s UV response by up to 30% (i.e., reduces the amount of sunburn), this does not mean we’re advocating for you to stay out in the sun longer! With ongoing use, UV Protect can also reduce wrinkle depth and improve the skin’s elasticity, which is important to keep us looking youthful.
Of course, we cannot forget to protect our eyes as UV radiation can increase the risk of cataracts, growths on the eyes, and cancer. Wearing sunglasses whenever you head outside is important.
As with most good things, the sunshine needs to be enjoyed in moderation. Apply your sunscreen, put on your sunglasses, wear a hat, grab your water bottle and have fun!
Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique, family-operated Pharmasave stores in Cloverdale and Steveston, B.C. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use. Find them on Instagram and Facebook! Everything mentioned in their article is available InStore.
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