Diabetes Forecast

9 Skin Care Tips for Sun Safety

By Tracey Neithercott , ,

1. Choose the right sunscreen.

Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which will block both UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of at least 30. "The higher the number, the better," says Jeannette Graf, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "If someone's going to be outdoors for a long time, I recommend they go with at least SPF 50."

2. Maximize coverage.

The point of sunscreen is to cover your entire body—not just the parts you can easily reach. According to Graf, the average adult needs to apply at least a shot glass of sunscreen for full protection. Kids generally require half that amount. Some often-overlooked areas: the tops of the ears, the bottoms of the feet, under the arms, between toes (wash away lotion and dry thoroughly after you're out of the sun), on the scalp where the hair parts, and over the scalp for those with thinning hair (consider spray sunscreen for easy application).

3. Reapply often.

Reapply sunscreen every two hours and any time that you emerge from water.

Ease the Ouch

Use baby oil around the edges of an infusion set or sensor adhesive pad to loosen it from sunburned or irritated skin.
–Suzanne Ghiloni, RN, BSN, CDE

4. Shade your eyes.

Harmful UV rays can damage your eyesight, so wearing sunglasses is a must, especially if you have retinopathy or cataracts. Look for labels that say the lenses protect against 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.

5. Tend to wounds.

If you have foot ulcers or other wounds on your skin, don't cover them with sunscreen. Instead, ensure the wounds are clean and cover them with a bandage. In addition to blocking harmful rays, the bandage will keep bacteria from entering the wound.

6. Check your feet.

You've heard the warnings against going barefoot when blood glucose levels are high, nerve sensation is low, or circulation is poor. People without feeling in their feet can even get second-degree burns from standing in hot sand for too long. Each night, check your feet and treat any minor scrapes or blisters with antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin before covering with a bandage, says Suzanne Ghiloni, RN, BSN, CDE, a certified diabetes educator at the Joslin Diabetes Center. Contact your doctor if you have open or nonhealing wounds.

7. Anchor infusion sets.

When using an insulin pump in hot, sticky weather, prepare the site for a new set with a skin-prep wipe that leaves behind a tacky residue for better adhesion. Consider using antiperspirant on the skin before inserting the infusion set. If those prep steps don't help, ask your provider to recommend a stronger adhesive or a transparent dressing. Note: Don't use a tacky skin-prep wipe or antiperspirant with a continuous glucose monitor sensor—it may affect the device's accuracy.

8. Mind your meds.

Certain antibiotics, heart medications, anti-inflammatories, and some blood pressure drugs may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Many sulfonylureas, used to treat type 2 diabetes, also increase sun sensitivity.

9. Treat sunburns immediately.

"If the skin is peeling, it's always good to keep lotions on it so it doesn't crack and open up a spot for infections," says Emmy Graber, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine and a dermatologist at Boston Medical Center. For pain relief, take an anti-inflammatory medication, then slather aloe over the burn.



Take the Type 2
Diabetes Risk Test