A young woman applies sunscreen on the beach.
Healthcare tips

Protecting Acne-Prone Skin from the Sun

May 23, 2024

For patients who experience acne flare-ups the spring and summer sun can be a major source of anxiety. The sun is harsh, particularly for those with sensitive, acne-prone skin.

As much as you may love soaking up those rays, it's crucial to remember that unprotected exposure can exacerbate acne and potentially lead to consequences like hyperpigmentation, premature aging, and even skin cancers. 

So, how can you enjoy fun in the sun while minimizing the risk of breakouts and skin damage? Let's explore some essential strategies for shielding sensitive or acne-prone skin from the sun's harmful effects. Be sure to also talk to your doctor about your unique risks and discuss how these strategies, or others, can help protect your skin.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen and Applying It Correctly

Selecting a sunscreen formulated specifically for acne-prone skin is paramount for protecting your skin from damage and avoiding breakouts. Look for products labeled "non-comedogenic" or "oil-free" to ensure they won't likely clog pores. Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to help shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Mineral-based sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are known to be gentle on sensitive skin and can provide excellent protection without causing breakouts.

Just as important as choosing a good sunscreen is how you apply it. Many people underestimate the amount of sunscreen needed for adequate protection. Experts recommend applying a nickel-sized amount of sunscreen to the face and neck at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. Don't forget to reapply every two hours, or more frequently if you're sweating heavily or swimming. 

Staying Covered

Avoiding direct sunlight during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) when UV radiation is strongest can possibly reduce sun damage. Seek shade under trees and umbrellas, or wear a wide-brimmed hat for added protection. If outdoor activities are unavoidable, try to schedule them for early morning or late afternoon when the sun's intensity is lower.

Wearing lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and sunglasses can shield your skin from harmful UV rays. Look for clothing labeled with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) ratings for added sun protection.

Keeping Your Body Properly Hydrated

Proper hydration is essential for maintaining healthy skin. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your skin hydrated and resilient against environmental stressors, including sun exposure. Hydrated skin is thought to be less prone to irritation and inflammation, helping to possibly minimize acne breakouts.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to maintaining healthy skin and minimizing acne flare-ups. So, lather on that sunscreen, seek shade, and embrace sun-safe practices for radiant, healthy skin all year round. If you have further questions about preventing acne and protecting your skin in warm weather, be sure to reach out to your dermatologist or doctor to learn more.

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