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Summer Skin Health: A Naturopathic Guide to Healthy Glowing Skin

Happy beautiful woman smiling in a wheat field - Delightful female enjoying summertime sunny day outside - Wellbeing concept with confident girl laughing in the nature

By Dr. Anna Bullen, ND.


 

In the summer months when the weather is glorious it can be tempting to soak up as much sunshine as you can before the cold seasons return. While some sun exposure can be beneficial, it’s important to use strategies to prevent skin cancer and keep your skin healthy.

It may seem counterintuitive, as many people consider the sun to be beneficial for dermatological concerns, (and indeed it can be, think UV light treatment for eczema or psoriasis), but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Let’s first unpack the types of ultraviolet (UV) exposure:

  • UVB: medium wavelength, penetrates the first layer of the skin called the epidermis, responsible for Burns, cannot penetrate through glass
  • UVA: longer wavelength, penetrates the deeper layer of skin called the dermis, responsible for Aging, can penetrate through glass (think car and office windows).
  • Both UVA and UVB exposure can damage our skin and cause skin cancer.

While it’s important to maintain healthy vitamin D levels, it’s also important to protect your skin from prolonged exposure to the sun to avoid skin cancer and premature aging. The best way to do that is, you guessed it, sunscreen! Let’s talk the different kinds of sunscreens:

  • Chemical: contain organic compounds like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate, which absorb UV radiation and convert it into heat, which is then released from the skin. These sunscreens tend to be easier to apply without leaving a white residue, but they can sometimes cause skin irritation, particularly for those with sensitive skin or conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema.
  • Mineral: contain inorganic compounds such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients sit on top of the skin and physically block UV radiation. Mineral sunscreens are less likely to cause irritation and are often recommended for those with sensitive or reactive skin.

When wearing sunscreen, always look for one that says ‘broad spectrum’ meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB light, as well as at least SPF 15 or higher. In addition to choosing the right sunscreen, incorporating other sun protection strategies can greatly enhance your skin health during the summer. Wearing protective clothing, seeking shade during peak sun hours, and remembering to reapply SPF every 2 hours when outside can also be effective strategies.

 

Diet

In terms of improving skin health from the inside out, diet plays a crucial role. Here are some antioxidant rich foods you might want to consider adding to your plate to improve skin health this summer. When in doubt, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are the way to go!

  • Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)
  • Green tea
  • Salmon
  • Dark green vegetables (kale, collards, romaine, broccoli, spinach, bok choy)
  • Red and orange vegetables (carrots, tomato, sweet potato, bell peppers)
  • Nuts and seeds (walnuts, sunflower seeds, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds)

Implementing sun protection measures and maintaining a healthy diet are foundational to skin health. Additional treatments such as supplements, herbal medicine, and over the counter medications can also be useful for individuals struggling with a specific skin condition. Always talk to your health care provider before starting a new treatment, and remember to enjoy the sun safely!


 

Author: Dr. Anna Bullen, ND

Dr. Anna Bullen, ND is a registered naturopathic doctor and is currently accepting patients. Anna has experience treating patients of all ages and with a broad spectrum of health concerns. Anna’s clinical areas of focus are: dermatology, mental health conditions, neurological disorders, and LGBTQIA2S+ health.


 

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