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Smart Suncare for the Outdoor Athlete

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:49pm
SUSAN CINGARI: Hello, I’m Susan Cingari, welcome to our web cast from sunny Miami.

Summer is the time for outdoor exercise, but exciting as this may be for sports lovers, it does mean that you have to take extra care to protect yourself from that sun.

MALE VOICE 1: I always use sunscreen.

FEMALE VOICE 1: I use SPF at least like 15 to thirty.

MALE VOICE 2: I don’t use anything at all.

MALE VOICE 3: When I put sunscreen on I put it on my body but really not on my face, unless it’s just sunblocker on my nose. But as far as sunscreen around my forehead or anything like that, it gets in the eyes and it really bothers them. When you go running in the sand, it sticks on you with the sunscreen so it acts like a glue and almost gets all over you, and it can give your ashes as you’re running. So I rarely use it but I do use it.

SUSAN CINGARI: There are different sun care concerns for different sports. Joining me to discuss these very important issues are two dermatologists from the University of Miami, Dr. Betty Bellman, thank you Dr. Betty, thank you for being here, and Dr. Barry Resnik, thank you also for being here.

Let’s start with Dr. Bellman. There are different types of sports out there. There is golf, tennis, baseball, swimming, running, people are power walking with even their baby strollers, now that’s a big thing, too, and skiing. Talk to me about what is the correct product for some of these activities.

BETTY BELLMAN, MD: People are in a hurry. They want to put their sunscreen on and they want to go out the door and do their thing. Sunscreen is supposed to be put on the body twenty to thirty minutes before you actually leave the house to do your outdoor activities. So technically, if you’re going to put it on and then go sweat and exercise, it may burn your skin, it may sting your eyes, it may actually be very greasy and you may have trouble holding a ball or a bat, or what have you. So you have to think of all these things ahead of time when you’re buying the sunscreen in the store.

SUSAN CINGARI: What about exposure to water sports? If you’re in the water, does it make you more susceptible to damaging your skin?

BARRY RESNIK, MD: Sure. Water actually acts as a lens and lets the sunlight penetrate a little more deeply into your skin. So when you’re putting your sunscreen on, first you want to make a choice: what are you going to choose? Something that’s very light and it’s going to go on and come off very easily, or it’s going to be heavy? The heavier the sunscreen, the more stick it’s going to be and the more it’s going to be able to glob onto your skin.

So as Betty said, you put it on at least thirty minutes before, preferably an hour before, and then when you go out and you’re going to go swimming or you’re going do a triathlon or you’re going to do windsurfing, and you get out of the water afterwards and you towel down, you’re taking your protection off with you, so you really got to put it back on.

SUSAN CINGARI: What about high altitude, you know, a lot of people like to do winter sports. They’re closer to the sun, it makes their skin more sensitive?

BETTY BELLMAN, MD: Absolutely. The higher you go, the more intense the ultraviolet radiation. So you’re going to get more UVB and UVA rays, especially UVB when you’re skiing on a mountain. So that means you have to protect your skin with at least an SPF 30 or higher that has both chemical sunscreens it and a physical block, like titanium oxide or zinc oxide.

BARRY RESNIK, MD: And you still sweat when you ski, although many people don’t think so. And the easier you’ve got something to put on the more likely you’re going to do it. That’s why a stick sunscreen comes in so handy all the time. You just roll it on, and it’s got a wax base that will allow it to stick on your skin more strongly.

BETTY BELLMAN, MD: And the sweat doesn’t drip down. If you put it above your eyebrows, the sweat won’t drip down past the eyebrows into your eyes and cause the sunscreen to burn your eyes. It’s a little trick, using a stick.

SUSAN CINGARI: What about areas we may forget as an athlete to protect? Are there certain areas, like your hands, maybe you’re out, sometimes I forget to put it on. What happens if you forget to put sunscreen on some of these areas?

BETTY BELLMAN, MD: You put it on your face, and a lot of people don’t put it on their ears, their neck, or their v-neck, and then you’ll see sun damage as the years go by on the v-neck, neck, and on the ears.

BARRY RESNIK, MD: You get a farmer’s tan, you get a sailor’s tan, you’ll get the cross-hatch lines on the back of the neck, you’ll start to develop little scaly stuff on your ears. The easiest way to combat that is to put your sunscreen on before you get dressed or before you put your swimsuit on so that you don’t have any skip areas.

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