As temperatures begin to drop this fall, it’s time to think about protecting skin from the elements. Changing your summer skin care regimen to adapt to the crisp fall air should still include all the basics – a hydrating cleanser, a thicker moisturizer and, yes, more sunscreen. But protecting skin from the sun, wind and (albeit rare) sub-freezing temperatures of cooler seasons should also include additional clothing.
A majority of the 3.7 million skin cancers diagnosed in the U.S. annually are caused by UV radiation from the sun, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. Clothing absorbs and blocks much of the sun’s harmful radiation and is our first line of defense. Plus, accessorizing can be fun!
Here’s what we recommend:
Layer on the layers
Weather in the South is unpredictable – hot one minute and cool the next; and the sunshine can be deceiving. In warmer temperatures, layers that can be removed will allow skin to breathe and prevent sweat from irritating the skin. Keep long-sleeved options handy in colder temperatures to avoid exposing skin to unexpected wind and cold.
The types of clothing you choose also matters – tightly woven fabrics like denim and wool have smaller holes between the threads and block more UV rays than open weaves like lace. Synthetic fibers like polyester and rayon offer the greatest protection, while cottons offer the least. Some manufacturers offer sun-protective clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) label, which indicates what fraction of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the fabric. Look for products that offer UPF of 30 or higher.
Choose the Right Accessories
Even the most disciplined person can forget to put sunscreen on the scalp, neck and tops of the ears. However, these areas receive the most sun exposure and are particularly susceptible to the two most common forms of skin cancer: basal and squamous cell carcinoma; and, people with melanoma of the head and neck are almost twice as likely to die from the disease as patients with melanomas on other parts of the body, according to the Foundation. Hands and feet are also some of the most exposed areas of the body.
Thankfully, cooler temperatures make hats, scarves, socks and gloves safe and stylish options to protect these sun-prone areas. Experts recommend a wide-brimmed hat or one that at least covers the ears and back of the neck for the most protection. If you choose a smaller hat, opt for a stylish scarf or neck gaiter that can be draped around the neck and even pulled up over the nose and cheeks. Other great options include ear muffs or headbands that cover the ears.
Sunglasses are not just for summer. The sun’s UV rays cause up to 90 percent of the visible changes attributed to aging, such as wrinkles, brown spots and sagging skin, as well as skin cancers around the eyes. In fact, five to 10 percent of all skin cancers develop on the eyelids, according to the Foundation.
Look for sunglasses that cover as much of the eyes, eyelids and surrounding skin as possible. Check the tag to verify that they block 99-100 percent of all UV radiation (UVA and UVB). Prescription eyewear can also be coated for UV protection.
The retail store at Greenville Dermatology offers several sun-protective accessories, from gloves and hats to scarves and sunglasses. Visit our retail store at 369 Woodruff Road to check out our Summer Specials or call Greenville Dermatology at 864-242-5872 for more information.