Summer is here, and the sun is shining. But just as you risk getting a sunburn after so many months covered up, you also risk a rosacea flare-up if you're one of the more than 80 percent of patients for whom sun exposure is a trigger. The solution, of course, is to minimize exposure and protect your skin with sunscreen. Here are some tips for getting the best protection.
Be Strong. Ultraviolet rays come in two types: UVA accelerates the aging process and contributes to skin cancer, while UVB is responsible for sunburns, DNA damage and elastic tissue damage. Select a sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection with a minimum SPF of 15, and preferably SPF 30 or higher. Rosacea patients with sensitive skin might try a pediatric sunscreen, a moisturizer combined with a sunscreen, or a convenient mineral formulation, as these may be gentler and less likely to cause skin irritation.
Apply Early and Often. It takes 15-30 minutes for sunscreen to reach full efficacy, so don’t wait to put it on until you are exposed. And sunscreen can wear off from physical contact and wash off with sweat or exposure to water. Even the longest-lasting sunscreens are only effective for about two hours, so make sure to reapply throughout the day. A hat and sunglasses are useful to augment sunscreen's protection.
Keep it Up. Apply sunscreen daily year-round, whether it's sunny or cloudy (clouds don't stop UV rays, and can sometimes even increase them) and especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is strongest.
Stay Cool. To protect against heat -- which is a major trigger factor unto itself -- use a sunscreen that reflects rather than absorbs radiation, such as those containing non-chemical physical barriers like zinc oxide or micronized titanium oxide. Seek the shade as much as possible and remember to stay hydrated by taking along a water bottle. Chewing on ice chips can also help, especially with flushing.
Photo credit: kerinin on flickr.