Summer Skin Health and Safety Tips

In a live chat on the Johns Hopkins Medicine Facebook page on June 23, 2015, dermatologist Crystal Agi answered readers’ skin health questions. Hear what she had to see about skin health and learn more from the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library.

Concerned about your skin health? Schedule an appointment or learn more through the Department of Dermatology at or 410-955-5933.


What are some good practices for those with sensitive skin?

Avoid harsh facial scrubs which can irritate and cause small tears in the skin. Dry skin gets irritated more easily, so make sure to moisturize daily to prevent further irritation. If you have oily skin, make sure your moisturizer is oil-free.

If you are sensitive to certain types of sunscreens, look for those that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the primary ingredients.

What do I need to know about sunscreen use?

In general, we recommend using a “broad spectrum” sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on a daily basis. Broad spectrum means that it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. This is very important since we now know that both types of UV rays can lead to skin cancer and aging skin. SPF tells you how much UVB is blocked, though there is currently not a standardized labeling for the degree of UVA that is blocked.

An SPF of 30, when applied correctly and reapplied, blocks 97 percent of the sun’s rays. So there is not much of a difference between a sunscreen with an SPF 30 and one with an SPF 100. Reapplying sunscreen throughout the day—at least every two hours—greatly reduces the amount of sun exposure. It is also suggested to use a shot glass amount of sunscreen when applying and reapplying.

Sunscreen should also be used every day, year-round. This includes cloudy, gray and rainy days. The UV rays that cause skin cancer, aging skin and sunburns can be present during all daylight hours even when it is overcast.

The FDA requires that all sunscreens retain their original strength for at least three years and some sunscreens include an expiration date. Write the date of purchase on bottles of sunscreen to help keep track of how old they are. Look for visible signs, such as change in color or consistency, which may indicate when a sunscreen is no longer good. If you use sunscreen in the correct amount every day, a bottle should not last that long.

Visit the American Academy of Dermatology’s website for more tips on sunscreen use.

What’s the best way to treat a sunburn?

To start, get out of the sun. Move indoors or move to a shady, protected area to minimize any further damage to your skin.

Put a cool, damp towel on the sunburned skin and take a cool shower or bath as soon as possible. Use a moisturizer after showering to help prevent the skin from drying out.

Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen will help battle redness and inflammation.

Drink water to help replenish fluid that will be lost through your skin.

If you develop blisters, do not pop them. If you feel sick, seek medical attention as this may indicate a very severe burn.

How can you tell the difference between a mole and melanoma?

It is important to examine your skin on a regular basis and recognize any changes in markings and moles that could be identified as melanoma. Use the ABCD chart to help detect malignant melanoma in its earliest stage. Warning signs include:

  • Asymmetry – when one half of a mole does not match the other half
  • Border – when the border (edges) of a mole are ragged or irregular
  • Color – when the color of a mole is not the same all over
  • Diameter – when the mole’s diameter is larger than a pencil’s eraser

Refer to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library for photo examples of normal moles and melanoma.

What are some tips for summer skin protection?

The American Academy of Dermatology suggests five basic rules for skin protection in the sun.

  1. Apply broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen. Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or more on all exposed skin when spending time outside. Reapply sunscreen after a few hours, especially after activities where it may wash off your skin, such as swimming. Sunscreen can no longer be labeled “waterproof” or “sweatproof.”
  2. Wear protective clothing. Long sleeves, sunglasses and a hat can help protect you from the sun’s rays. Clothing labeled with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is most effective.
  3. Stay out of the sun during peak hours if at all possible. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so avoid being in direct sunlight whenever possible.
  4. Be careful, especially at the beach. Water and sand can reflect and intensify the sun’s rays, so be extra cautious to avoid sunburn.
  5. Avoid tanning beds. Tanning beds, like the sun, can cause skin cancer. If you want to look tan, consider using a spray or self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen as well.


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Adrienne J. Dye June 24, 2015 at 10:42 am

I found this information to be useful in that it gets and stays to the point quickly and most helpful since I do live in Florida.


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