Dermatology RPA-C Jennifer Wong with Advanced Dermatology PC offers tips on protecting your skin while heading outside

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As Spring Emerges, Plan for Sun Protection 2021-Style

Jennifer Wong, RPA-C

It’s not true that people with a so-called ‘base tan’ – darker skin resulting from sun exposure over time – are far more protected than others from sunburn.

As the COVID-19 pandemic eases and we all emerge from our homes more often, at least part of that time will likely be spent in the sun – necessitating sun protection 2021-style, according to Jennifer Wong, RPA-C, of Advanced Dermatology P.C.

Less time spent on beaches, in public parks and at other potentially crowded outdoor venues over the last year means it’s more important than ever to safeguard your skin from the sun’s rays, especially as summer approaches, says Wong, a certified physician assistant with comprehensive experience in medical and cosmetic dermatology for all ages.

“It’s not true that people with a so-called ‘base tan’ – darker skin resulting from sun exposure over time – are far more protected than others from sunburn,” Wong explains. “But there’s no question that your first few times outside wearing T-shirts and shorts on sunny spring days leave your previously covered skin more vulnerable to sunburn and the sun’s damaging effects.”

Startling sunshine facts
As spring emerges and much of the United States continues experiencing cooler temperatures, UV radiation from the sun is more intense than you may have considered, Wong says.

Here are some facts about spring sunshine that reinforce the need for sun defense:

  • The average UV index (which measures the sun’s intensity) in April is nearly as high as in August in most U.S. states, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Those at higher altitudes experience even more intense sun exposure. For every 1,000 feet gained in elevation, the sun’s rays become about 10% to 15% stronger, Wong says.
  • Even on cloudy days, enough UV rays still reach the ground to potentially cause sunburn.
  • After the change to Daylight Saving Time, those extra daylight hours to work and play outside can add up to significantly more sun exposure.

“It’s easy to overlook, but we should take the risk of sun-related skin damage seriously year-round,” Wong says. “Sun safety needs to be a 4-season effort to avoid sunburn, skin aging, eye damage and skin cancer, which is the most common cancer among adults.”

Tips for prevention
People of all skin colors can experience sunburn and other harmful UV radiation effects, Wong says. But those at additional risk include people with:

  • Pale skin
  • Red, blond or light brown hair
  • Personal or family history of skin cancer

Regardless, Wong recommends everyone adopt these sun-safe tactics to maximize skin protection:

  • Limit your time in the sun, but especially between 10 am and 2 pm when its rays are strongest.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants when feasible.
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreens with SPF 15 (sun protection factor) or higher, since broad spectrum versions protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Apply sunscreen to all visible skin, and don’t forget your ears, nose, neck, hands, feet and lips.
  • Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours, more often if you’re sweating or swimming.
  • Wear a broad-brim hat.
  • Wear sunglasses labeled with a UVA/UVB rating of 100% for maximum eye protection.

“Getting outside is probably one of the best ways we can de-stress after the year we’ve all just experienced and as the pandemic eases,” Wong says. “But just as we should continue protecting ourselves from COVID, we also can’t opt out of careful sun protection.”

Bio: Jennifer M. Wong, RPA-C Physician Assistant. Ms. Wong has comprehensive experience in medical and cosmetic dermatology for all ages.

Advanced Dermatology P.C. and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery (New York & New Jersey) is one of the leading dermatology centers in the nation, offering highly experienced physicians in the fields of cosmetic and laser dermatology as well as plastic surgery and state-of-the-art medical technologies.

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