A Note From Dr. Laura: Daily Sun Exposure

The Importance of Using Sunscreen Daily

Did you know you can get sun damage on a cloudy day, driving in your car for a quick errand or even just taking out the trash? Sun damage isn’t isolated to activities like beach days, hiking or hanging by the pool. Another common example is eating lunch outside when the sun is at its peak intensity! As a dermatologist, the most common push back I get from patients when we discuss daily sunscreen use is, “I am never in the sun!” In fact, about 80% of our sun exposure is “incidental,” meaning we are being exposed to the sun’s radiation even without being directly outside.

Most of my patients say they will wear sunscreen if they know they are going to be in the sun, but not otherwise. I see it frequently in women who religiously apply sunscreen to their face but forget about their neck, chest, and hands. This results in solar elastosis - the telltale signs of wrinkling, irregular pigmentation, and red scaling areas. These can be manifestations of pre-cancers or actinic keratosis. Not the goal when you think of sunbathing, right?

Chronic Sun Exposure

Unwanted chronic sun exposure results in the breakdown of collagen and can cause broken blood vessels/ telangiectasias, blackheads/ nodular elastosis and skin cancer. Commonly, patients, especially women, will say “I never lay in the sun,” as if the sun discriminates against people intentionally seeking it. My advice is to prepare for sun exposure every day - the world isn’t dark in the daytime, after all. I can honestly and sincerely say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!