Sun, Skin and Regret in Texas
Keeping your skin safe in Texas is critical. Growing up largely in Texas, or rather, growing up in large Texas, I got a lot of sun! Every weekend we spent waterskiing on the lake, and we didn’t stop until we watched the sun fall below the horizon. I was too busy jumping back in the water to ski again to worry about re-applying my sunscreen.
Miss a turn? No way!
I remember “laying out” on the bow of the boat, counting down the minutes until I got my turn again … and I shudder as I admit that I recall applying baby oil, albeit liberally, in order to maximize my “tan.”
Let’s face it, we live in Texas. Many of us get A lot of sun exposure. We are beckoned to hang out underneath our big sky … we go tubing in our many lakes and rivers, and trips to the beach are great childhood memories. As for sun? It just feels good.
It looks pretty, right?
The glow … the look of our sun-kissed cheeks … pretty, aren’t they? Then, suddenly, we hit our thirties, and the deleterious effects of our sun-worshipping start to show. Here are some pointers to keep your skin safer:
- Avoid extended sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm. This is when the sun’s rays are strongest.
- Cover up. Loose clothing with a tight-weave helps … and don’t forget that wide-brimmed hat!
- Use sunscreen frequently. Apply this liberally. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors; Reapply about every two hours. According to the American College of Dermatology, sunscreen with an SPF of 30 is ideal (greater than that is not necessarily better); Sunscreen that helps to protect against both UVA and UVB is important. Oh, and leave the baby oil at home.
If you are affected by sunburn:
- Keep it cool. Apply cold compresses — such as a towel dampened with cool water — to the affected skin. Or take a cool bath.
- Keep it moist. Apply aloe or moisturizing cream to the affected skin. Do not use products that contain alcohol, as they can dry out the skin.
- Leave blisters intact. If blisters form, don’t break them. You’ll only slow the healing process and increase the risk of infection. If needed, lightly cover blisters with gauze.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. If needed, take anti-inflammatory medication — such as aspirin or ibuprofen according to the label instructions until redness and soreness subside. Don’t give children aspirin as it may cause Reye’s syndrome, a rare but serious disease.
- Treat peeling skin gently. Within a few days, the affected area may begin to peel. This is simply your body’s way of getting rid of the top layer of damaged skin. While your skin is peeling, continue to use moisturizing cream.
- And, finally … call your physician for treatment if you have severe sunburn that covers a large portion of your body with blistering, you have a high fever or severe pain after sunburn, or if your sunburn does not improve within a few days.
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