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Texas dermatologist offers tips to protect skin from harmful UV rays

Multiple factors in the summertime, like an increased amount of sun and UV rays, can take a toll on your skin if not treated properly. Dr. Desai shares his tips.

AUSTIN, Texas — When the summertime rolls around, that typically means more time spent outdoors. But the sunshine can be doing a number on your skin in the long run if not cared for properly. 

Dr. Seemal R. Desai, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist, recommends sunscreen any time you're outdoors, using an SPF 30 or higher and applying it at least every two hours. Another important step is to always apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before being outdoors or getting in water. 

Dr. Desai said, if possible, avoid peak sunlight times between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"That's really very important. It's also very important to realize that the amount of sunscreen that you put on your body is really critical. Most adults need about a shot glass-size amount full of sunscreen for your whole body," said Dr. Desai. 

Dr. Desai says according to recent data, about 50% of adults don't apply enough sunscreen or reapply properly.

"So many people think, 'Oh, I'm doing it. I got the sunscreen, I applied it.' Then you go swimming when you didn't apply it soon enough and it washed off or you didn't apply enough, or you went out during the hours where you really want to avoid direct sun exposure. So I think those are some of the key critical elements," said Dr. Desai.

RELATED: Yes, spray sunscreen is as effective as lotion sunscreen, but both must be applied correctly to work best

If you're swimming in a pool, ocean or lake, it's also very crucial to make sure sunscreen is being applied. Some sunscreens are available that can actually go on to wet skin. 

"In my personal opinion, what I recommend to my patients is dry your skin, dry that excessive perspiration, water off of your skin and then reapply also. Then make sure you wait 15 minutes before jumping back into the pool. Give it that 15- to 30-minute window. You want to make sure you start the process over. So it may sound like a lot of work, but a few minutes can really protect your skin," stated Dr. Desai.

Excessive sun exposure and UV light is one of the most important risk factors for developing melanoma. Dr. Desai said in his practice alone, they diagnose thousands of skin cancers a year. 

"It's incredibly concerning when I see patients who think they're doing the right thing for sun safety come in still with sunburns," said Desai.

However, there are ways to protect yourself from the sun, including wearing clothing items and sportswear that contain UVA protection. Items like gym shirts, shorts and long sleeves are available at certain stores. Also, wear a wide-brimmed hat. 

"I can't stress that enough. Now the hat does not replace sunscreen on your forehead, face or scalp area, but it's an additional layer of protection. So even if you're running errands, you need to go take your dog out, still protect yourself, especially where we live, in triple-digit temperatures and such a high UV index, it is critically important. Even that short exposure can lead to a burn," said Dr. Desai.

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