I am so excited to partner with one of the most amazing dermatologists - Dr. Jennifer Deaver Peterson. She happens to be my dermatologist and has been for years. She has done wonders to help my acne, melasma, fine lines, wrinkles, well you get it.... But don't just take my word for it. Drjenforyourskin (on insta) is certified by the American Board of Dermatology and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery in dermatologic cosmetic surgery. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and is a member of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery, the American College of Phlebology, the Texas Dermatological Society, and the Houston Dermatological Society. Short answer: when she talks about skin we should listen!. I am heading to Puerto Vallarta this weekend so her timing for this info could not be better! So here it is straight from Dr. Jen.
It's cold outside and if you are like me, then you’re dreaming of a warm beach vacation. But before you go make sure to pack your bag with some of my favorite dermatologist picks to keep your skin safe and protected.
Let’s think of what our skin might encounter as we head south … sun, water, citrus, & insects. Some of the most popular winter getaway vacations for those of us in the States include Hawaii, Costa Rica, Belize, southeastern Mexico, and the Caribbean islands. Not only do these destinations share gorgeous sandy beaches, water, and wildlife, they are also located close to the equator. The closer your vacay spot is to the equator, the more intense the sun’s rays become. Thus making it easier and faster for your skin to become burned.
First things first, sunburns increase the risk for skin cancer and skin aging, so make sure to come prepared with plenty of sunscreen! I recommend my patients use mineral based sunscreens, ie those containing zinc and/or titanium aka physical blockers. Physical blockers are preferred as they are less likely to cause skin irritation vs chemical based sunscreens (avobenzone, oxybenzone, or PABA). Look for physical blockers with nanotechnology, such as micronized zinc, which reduces the white chalky appearance of sunscreen and gives the sunscreen a more cosmetically elegant feel. Apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before heading outdoors as it will need time to form a barrier to protect your skin. Make sure to apply a thick enough layer. A “shot glass” size of sunscreen is the amount needed for an average adult. Reapply every 90-120 minutes and/or after getting wet.
For the face, avoid aerosol sunscreens as they can cause eye and airway irritation. Instead choose oil-free creams, lotions, or sticks. My favorite is Elta MD Clear SPF 46, it great for acne, sensitive, and pigment-prone skin. It goes on white, rubs in clear in seconds, feels silky, and will not yellow your white swimsuit or clothing. If you have acne, consider using Elta MD Clear on other acne-prone areas such as the neck, chest, and upper back. For your body, reach for aerosols, creams, or lotions. Don't forget to protect your lips with a sunscreen containing lip balm. I wearEltaMD UV Lip Balm SPF 31.
Now let's turn our attention to the water. Whether your snorkeling, deep sea fishing, surfing, playing in the pool, or running along the beach your skin is directly exposed to the sun rays from above and those reflecting off the water. Some of the worst sunburns I have seen in my patients occurred while snorkeling. If you are planning any of these fun activities, consider getting a SPF surf shirt (aka rash guard) before you go. SPF fabrics have come a long way and chic versions with SPF 50 are readily available. Check out the picks below for some good options. I'm loving my fashion steal I found at Target and its message to “swim like a mermaid” (pictured above). Also remember to pack are your favorite Jackie O shades and a fabulous sunhat. Look to the picks below for big sunnies and a broad brimmed sunhat.
Now let’s imagine you have been beach side for a few days relaxing, having some tasty margaritas, and practicing your best safe sun techniques. Then, you notice numerous little red dots have appeared on the back of your left hand and wonder what might be happening? It is could be phytophotodermatitis (phyto=plant, photo=light, dermatitis = skin inflammation), and your dermatologist sees this condition quite frequently in patients coming back from beach vacations and cruises. Phytophotodermatitis occurs when the oils or juice of lemons, limes, or oranges gets on your skin followed by sun exposure. It results in an intense inflammatory skin reaction leading to an intense red rash, which may blister, 24-48 hours after the exposure to the citrus juice or oils. The rash can be arranged in a line or curvy shape if the juice ran down your arm or little dots if the juice was sprayed on the skin while squeezing the fruit. If the juice was on the palm of hand and fingers it can produce a handprint-shaped rash if you touch another part of your body. A few days later, the redness fades and the skin turns brown.
So how can you prevent phytophotodermatitis? Enjoy your favorite cocktail, but remember to wash your hands if consuming drinks or handling fresh citrus fruit while in the sun. If you think you accidentally touched your skin with a citrusy hand, then go wash both areas with soap and water. Seek medical attention for any severe pain, itching, swelling, or blistering. The brown pigmentation that remains after the redness has resolved can be improved with a prescription skin brightner from your board certified dermatologist back in the States.
Finally, don't forget many of these tropical locals have insects such as no-see-ums, sand flies, and mosquitos. When traveling to areas containing mosquitos capable of transmitting viruses like Zika, Dengue fever, & Chikungunya, make sure to pack insect repellant. The CDC recommends insect repellants containing DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil. Just remember to apply your insect repellant on TOP of your sunscreen, keep windows and doors closed at night, and if your hotel room is not well sealed/screened, then consider sleeping under bed nets.
Now that we have learned how to play it safe in the tropics, let’s get your bags packed, itineraries set, and go have fun in the sun!
These are some of Dr. Jen's picks - just click on the pictures below to be taken to the products to keep your skin safe!
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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