Summer in Florida means LOTS of outdoor time. Pool, beach, park and loads more. We’re all about fun in the sun, but want to make sure we keep our munchkins – and ourselves – safe from sun damage.

We chatted with board certified dermatologist Dr. Donna Bilu Martin, MD to get some summer sun tips…

How can sun exposure hurt us medically?
The sun’s rays are made up of three types of ultraviolet rays (UVA, UVB, UVC). UVA rays are generally responsible for signs of aging. UVB rays are associated with skin burning.  When UV rays penetrate the skin, they damage the DNA in the cells. Repeated damage can result in skin cancer.

What about cosmetically?
UVA rays damage the elastin and collagen in the skin, which are important for keeping skin looking tight. When these proteins are damaged, the skin appears leathery and wrinkled. Exposure to UV light can also cause brown sun spots, worsening melasma and white spots on the skin.

What’s the best way to protect ourselves from the sun?
Seek shade, wear sun protective clothing, avoid the sun between peak hours of 10am -4pm and wear a broad spectrum sunblock that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Don’t forget to reapply every 2 hours and wear sunglasses.

Any special tips for protecting kids?
Sunblock is approved for children over 6 months, so take special care with protecting babies with sun protective clothing and sun safety measures. Physical sunblocks that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide don’t come off as easily in water or when exercising. Hats and sunglasses are important.  

Any special tips for protecting adults?
Women (and men) should also remember to apply sunblock to their neck and chest (often overlooked areas), as well as the tops of the hands. Sunblock for lips is helpful as well.  Some women tend to rely on their makeup as sunblock, but it’s better to use a separate broad spectrum sunblock that is at least an SPF 30.

What are your favorite sunscreens?
I am a fan of the EltaMD pure sunblock for kids.  It’s chemical free and doesn’t irritate the skin or sweat off easily.  I also like it for the body for adults.  For the face I like the EltaMD Daily, UV Clear for acne/rosacea prone skin, Elements, and UV Sport.

How do you feel about spray sunscreens?
I like spray sunscreens only for the scalp before swimming if the skin is exposed.  Otherwise, I am not a fan or spray sunscreens in general. Applying a physical sunblock cream liberally (quarter size for the face, shot glass full for the body) will provide better coverage. And sun protective clothing when possible. 

Donna Bilu Martin, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist who grew up in Aventura, Florida.  In 2014, Dr. Bilu Martin opened Premier Dermatology, MD.  She happily treats men, women, and children of all ages.