Are you Inadvertently Putting your Skin at Risk?
Now that we are in the thick of summer, there seems to be no better topic to discuss than skin care. Most people know that exposing themselves to the sun's rays without adequate protection puts them at risk for skin cancer. We have also become more aware of the fact that UV damage is a major factor in premature aging. So what do we do? We apply sunscreen before we sit out at the beach or by the pool. On those days, or during vacations in the mountains where there is less environmental protection from UV light, we may even use a higher spectrum sunscreen than we do on routine days where we are going from home to work or school. This is all good, but it may not be enough.
Did you know that there are actually factors that can make your skin more sensitive to harmful UV rays? Clearly, if you did, you would avoid them.
What is photosensitivity?
Photosensitivity is a skin condition that occurs as a result of dermatologic change in response to a chemical. We can look at it like this: sunscreen produces a type of change in the skin that enables UV rays to bounce off. Agents that create photosensitivity, on the other hand, cause the skin to react in the opposite manner, creating something akin to combustion.
Triggers for photosensitivity include:
- Food sources. We know carrots for their benefit to eye health. Did you also know wild carrots can make it easier for you to burn? Other food sources include figs, dill, celery, and lime.
- Essential oils and scents. Pretty much any citrus essential oil can cause a bit of photosensitivity; some more than others. Take care when using wild orange, bergamot, lime, and lemon. In a pinch, use grapefruit essential oil, as this does not cause sensitivity to UV light.
- Drugs and supplements. Antidepressants, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs all create photosensitivity, and this is a short list. Herbal remedies can, too, including St. John's Wort.
- Skin care. You use skin care to make your fine lines and wrinkles disappear, not to potentially make them worse! Ingredients such as retinoic acid, beta- and alpha-hydroxy acids, and benzoyl peroxide, may all make you more sun-sensitive.
Photosensitivity can lead to a bad sunburn, and can even turn in to a photoallergy, in which a rash appears a few days after exposure. Take care to use products wisely, and you gain better protection against UV damage.