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5 Steps to Healthier Skin

Published: August 1, 2009

The good news: Too many birthdays do not cause wrinkles or “age” spots. The bad news: Too much sunshine does. Research shows that nearly all of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by overexposure to the sun and its ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Healthy and more youthful skin begins with judicious—and year-round—use of sunscreen that allows skin to heal and the immune system to repair some existing damage. Experts say that other products and therapies are beneficial, too.

Follow these tips from New York City dermatologist and spokesperson for The Skin Cancer Foundation Dr. Deborah Sarnoff to help prevent and even reverse skin damage:

1. Exfoliate: Use a loofah, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) cleanser, or a home microdermabrasion unit to remove dead skin cells and remnants of self-tanning sprays or lotions that can make skin appear blotchy and uneven.

2. Bleach the brown: To lighten stubborn brown spots and other accumulations of unwanted pigment, try an over-the-counter product that contains kojic acid, Hydroquinone, Retin-A, and a mild steroid cream.

3. Hydrate: Hand, body, and foot creams restore moisture and correct damage. Applying moisturizer with AHAs or a facial serum with hyaluronic acid around the eyes helps skin appear less dry and wrinkled. Continued use may promote collagen formation.

4. Visit a dermatologist: Ask your doctor about laser and resurfacing treatments. Photodynamic therapy—laser or intense pulsed light (IPL) in combination with the topical substance Levulan—helps remove scaly patches of actinic keratoses (precancerous lesions) from the skin. A dermatologist can check for and remove these precancerous patches.

5. Shop smart: Wearing hats and opting for special lip balms, clothing, and window film also protect skin (and eye) health. Sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation help prevent skin cancer on the eyelids, a surprisingly common diagnosis accounting for up to 10 percent of all skin cancers.

“Eyelid skin cancer is not something most people think about,” said Dr. C. William Hanke, senior vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation and Post dermatology consultant. “With their thin, delicate structures, the eyes and surrounding areas are particularly prone to cancers. And, it’s an area people often forget to protect from the sun.”

Most eyelid cancers occur on the lower lid. Check labels, tags, or packaging carefully when shopping for sunglasses and other sun-protective products.

Click here for a list of specific items that meet The Skin Cancer Foundation’s criteria for effective UV sun protection.

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  • Jesuit

    Modern medicine’s apparent fixation with the deadliness of the sun’s rays seems needlessly obsessive and demonstrably excessive.
    The sun is the source of life on this planet; it is not foreign to us.
    While some people do not tolerate the sun as well as others, actual disease is often the result of a malnourished body–or, in some cases, gene defects.
    I suppose the most effective UV sun protection is living underground.
    I’ll take my chances topside–using a skin-protecting lotion only when exposure is uncharacteristically intense or unusually prolonged.