Sunscreen: Where You Might be Missing

The dog days of summer are upon us, and by now nearly everyone has heard the recommendation to apply sunscreen before heading outdoors. Our faces, arms and legs typically receive the most attention for sunscreen, but one place that we need to be mindful of is our hands. Hands are vulnerable to the sun in a variety of ways each day; walking outside and even gripping the steering wheel in the car exposes them to UV rays. These rays can age and damage skin and hands which commonly go without sunscreen.

For years, sunscreen has been believed to provide anti-aging benefits, in addition to skin protection. The Skin Cancer Foundation shared a study from the American College of Physicians' Annals of Internal Medicine, which became the first to provide concrete evidence that this belief is accurate. This news is especially significant for areas of the body that tend to age quickly, like hands. The skin on the back of the hands is already thin and coupled with age and sun exposure can give way to sun spots, wrinkles and creases, in addition to sun damage. However, this study provides a glimmer of hope. If sunscreen is applied liberally and regularly, the aging process can actually be slowed.

If skin can be saved from premature aging with the use of sunscreen, why do hands so commonly go without it? One explanation for sunscreen-free hands may simply be forgetting to apply it. This area may not seem to burn as often as other places, but UV rays are still being absorbed and may leave you with unwanted solar side effects.

Another possible explanation may lie in the fact that often, hands are washed after sunscreen application. This removes the occasionally-greasy residue leftover and ensures sunscreen isn't rubbed into the eyes or other unintended places. But by doing this, leaves the hands unprotected. Next time you apply sunscreen, give special attention to the backs of your hands, but wash off your palms, fingertips and fingernails afterwards. Traditional sunscreen is the best option, but if you're looking to try something new, there are many options. Plenty of hand creams and lotions also contain SPF and can help keep your hands sun damage free.

To stop the clock on sun damage this summer, remember to give your hardworking hands a dose of daily sunscreen. They will thank you for it!

If you are experiencing a severe sunburn and flu-like symptoms with a fever, contact your health care provider or call 918-579-DOCS (3627) to schedule an appointment with one of our Utica Park Clinic physicians.