With the warmer weather approaching, you may wonder how the sun, heat and humidity will affect scarring. It can be a wonderful feeling to have the sun on your skin as you enjoy a day at the beach or barbecue. But the same sun that gives you that alive and vibrant feeling is the same sun that can give you premature wrinkles, dry skin, and skin cancer. That’s why it’s so important to take care of your scars when the nice weather hits.
Keep this in mind: according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer happen to 3.3 million people each and every year. Here’s how to protect your scars this spring and summer.
How to Protect Fresh Wounds and New Scars
When you first get a wound that you know will scar, you have to take steps to minimize its appearance while protecting it from the sun. After you get a cut or other injury, clean the site, add antibiotic ointment, and cover it. Change out the bandages every day until it starts to scab. As it heals, apply sunscreen to the area whenever venturing outside. Continue this once the scab is gone, but then start to apply Scarfade, a silicone gel proven to help fade scars, twice a day on the area.
How Scars React to the Sun
The American Academy of Dermatology says that scars are much more sensitive to sunlight than normal skin areas with no scarring. New scars in particular are vulnerable to UV rays because they’re so red and raw. Older scars may be white but they can still get even whiter with unprotected exposure to the sun.
Many people mistakenly think if they allow their scar to sit in the sun, it will tan to match the rest of their skin. Not so. That’s just not how scarred skin works, as the hyperpigmentation in that scar will lead to discoloration and more intense hues.
Apply the Proper Sunscreen
Choosing the proper sunscreen is key. You want to choose one with an SPF between 50 and 150 for your scar. Don’t go any higher than that, as very high SPF lotions contain extra ingredients and chemicals that cause irritation such as hives and rashes.
You may be able to find sunscreen designed specifically for sensitive scarred skin. If you can’t find this online or in a store, call your dermatologist to get a prescription.
Now that you have the right sunscreen, be sure to apply it often, whether you’re in and out of the pool or you’re sweating buckets at a pickup basketball game with friends. A good rule of thumb is to re-apply every hour, and apply it 15 minutes before venturing outside.
Wear a wide brimmed hat, particularly if you have facial scars, with light-colored long pants and sleeves made of breathable materials.
Treating your actual scar is of critical importance. Getting into a routine of applying a scar-gel treatment such as Scarfade is wise, as this heals and reduces the appearance of scars. This spring and summer, enjoy the nice weather – just be sure to protect yourself.