Don't Forget to Protect Your Scalp From the Sun

The longest days of the year are upon us which means even more sunshine in sunny San Diego.

Men who are bald or have bald spots, as well as those with thinning hair or even a receding hairline, have to be especially careful in the summer months to ensure that their scalp is adequately protected. The scalp is frequently overlooked and is an area of the body that is particularly vulnerable to both the UVA and UVB sunrays.

"It's important for men to make sunscreen part of their daily routine. One way to remember to use sunscreen is to keep it near your toothbrush or razor. Another method is to use sunscreen as an aftershave. Use a sunscreen product that has an SPF 50 or higher, and be sure to apply to both the scalp and ears," explains Dr. Elan Newman, Department of Dermatology, Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group.

Be sure to use enough sunscreen on your body so that you get the level of protection that's stated on the bottle. Current recommendations call for applying one full teaspoon of sunscreen to each part of your body, and to reapply every few hours or after going into the water or after excessive sweating.

Research shows that an SPF 30 sunscreen works for about 40 minutes under simulated sunlight, while an SPF 60 product usually lasts about two hours, so be sure to reapply as needed. Finally, remember that sunscreens are just a "screen" and not a "shield." They don't block all the UV light from reaching your skin; they just lower the amount of light that would penetrate the skin. So in addition to applying a sunscreen, wear protective clothing such as a wide-brimmed hat. Minimize outdoor activities between the hours of 10 am to 4 pm, when the sun is the strongest.

It's also important to take note of any changes to your skin. Do frequent checks of your scalp, ears and neck as well as any other exposed part of your body. See a dermatologist if you spot any moles changing colors or shape or developing irregular borders.

It's important to ask your doctor to check you for skin cancer every year. This is critical for preventive care and because of the amount of sun exposure we have in San Diego. Your physician will do a thorough review of your skin and identify suspicious spots. It's a great opportunity for you to learn about your skin and how to keep it looking its best.

Find a San Diego Doctor
To find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.