By Mark Rudi

Protecting your Skin

UNM dermatologist offers skin care tips for the summer

Memorial Day is considered the unofficial start of summer and many people and families will be out in the sun for the holiday weekend.

And being in New Mexico and the Southwest increases sun exposure. So, what are some tips for skin care this summer and protecting yourself from the sun's damaging rays?

"You want to seek shade and really avoid the sun when it's at its strongest, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.," said John Durkin, MD, assistant professor of Dermatology at The University of New Mexico. "You want to apply a broad spectrum of sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, to all of your exposed skin. We also recommend that you use some sun-protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and sunglasses."

The American Academy of Dermatology also recommends:

  • Use sunscreen whenever you are going to be outside, even on cloudy days.
  • When outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
  • Use extra caution near water and sand, as they reflect the sun's damaging rays, which increase your chance of a sunburn.

If you do get sunburned, you can protect your skin by applying Vaseline or some sort of moisturizer, Durkin said.

"If you are experiencing symptoms of fevers or chills or anything like that, you will want to give your doctor a call," Durkin said.

These tips also will help to protect your skin from skin cancer. Some telltale signs of skin cancer are anything new that is growing, changing, bleeding or not healing. If you notice any of those signs, Durkin said, you should contact your doctor.