Dr. Whitney Bowe joins Good Morning America on Melanoma Monday to share information on how to keep your skin safe and healthy this summer!

When I was a little kid, my hair was a very white-blonde color. My mom loved to squeeze lemon juice into my hair to lighten it even more when we were at the beach. Little did she know that she was exposing her skin to a condition called phytophotodermatitis, which can result in severe chemical burns on your skin. All you need is the juice of a lemon or a lime, a bergamot orange – all seemingly innocuous citrus fruits – and sunlight. The juice reacts with sunlight and can seriously burn your skin, ranging from redness and blisters all the way to second degree burns. Even if your skin does not burn, you may wind up with substantial, lasting, skin discoloration which presents as darkened patches on the skin.

4 Ingredients that Can Cause Severe Sun Damage

So, if you use a hair lightener at the beach – like Sun In or  Sun Bum Hair Lightener, these typically include lemon juice or extract. Be careful not to leave any of this spray on your skin if you are using it on your hair.

If your child has a lemonade stand, be mindful of whether she is squeezing lemons and then exposing her skin to the sun. This is something very few parents think about, but the rashes and burns which can result are actually very real.

Other products which cause photosensitivity which can result in irritation, redness, dark spots, burns, and sun damage include:

These Essential Oils are Photosensitive

 

Certain Essential Oils: So many of my patients swear by their essential oils. They can be energizing, relaxing, and everything in between. But, if you’re going to spend the day in the sun, don’t expose your skin to: bergamot, bitter orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, verbena, and several others. Be sure to check the information which accompanies your essential oils, as many are labeled photosensitive!

Reminder: Why Retinol Invites Burning

Retinol: I always recommend that my patients use their skin renewing retinol products at night. If you use retinol in the morning and head out into the bright sunshine, you will not have happy, healthy skin. This is a nighttime product because it makes your skin more sensitive to the sun.

Have you Heard of Hydroquinone?

Hydroquinone: This skin brightening ingredient — which helps limit the skin from producing an excess amount of melanin (which is what gives our skin its pigment and, in cases of excess production, causes brown patches and hyperpigmentation) — is also a common culprit in terms of photosensitivity. Check your labels before you use your skin cream and head out to the beach or pool!

Have a wonderful time in the sun, wear your sunscreen, and watch out for those sneaky citrus fruits!

Dr. Whitney

 

A few months ago, I posted about this innovative new technology which was on the horizon and now, it’s here!!

As I discussed on Good Morning America today, sunscreen brand La Roche-Posay has developed the “MY UV Patch” which you wear on your skin. The patch is like a little sticker and it’s about ½ the thickness of a human hair, but it’s a very smart sticker!  The sticker and its accompanying App monitor the amount of UV exposure you’re getting in real time.

In my practice, I see so many patients who have a tan or sun spots and swear “but I’m NEVER in the sun!” I think this patch will help educate people on how easy it is to accumulate UV exposure even on shady days. It will help you learn when you’re getting the most rays– on your way to work?  During your lunch break?  Sitting next to the office window at your desk?  I think you’ll be surprised!

It will also help you determine WHERE you are getting those rays. People wear products with sunscreen plus makeup on their faces, but often neglect their chests and the tops of their hands, which speeds up aging on those skin surfaces.

As I discussed on air, the patch is water resistant so you can shower and swim with it, exercise with it, and even apply sunscreen directly on it. One really cool aspect of the patch is that you can see how well your sunscreen or SPF makeup is performing at screening out UV rays by monitoring your patch. Burning through your sunscreen?  Test your sunscreen on top of the patch and see if it truly delivers. Your makeup says it has SPF 30 in it?  Apply it to your patch and see if your patch agrees! So, it will help you figure out which products actually live up to their claims.

Knowledge is power, and this is one more very innovative tool to raise awareness when it comes to sun exposure!

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