Spring break is just around the corner which means many eager Minnesotans will be heading out to warm weather destinations! Now is a great time to stock up on some sun protective clothing so you will be ready for vacation. Sun protective clothing means rash guard shirts and broad-brimmed hats which work better than sunscreen alone to prevent sunburns. Most retailers are now selling sun protective clothing in a variety of styles to protect your skin whether you are out by the pool, biking, hiking, golfing, fishing, or simply walking around sight seeing.
Broad spectrum sunscreens should be used in addition to sun protective clothing on all skin that is exposed to the sun. When shopping for sunscreen, be sure to find a product with Zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide which are both physical blocks that reflect the sun.
For those of you who enjoy outdoor winter activities like skiing or snowshoeing be sure to protect yourself from the sun as well! It is easy to forget that sun reflects off the snow and can cause severe sunburns if you are not careful. Light weight ski masks called "buffs" have become more popular amongst skiers to prevent sunburn. A pure zinc-based sun block such as Sportzblock sunscreen is recommended on any sun exposed skin. The same rules apply whether you are on a beach or on the slopes especially as spring approaches.
Another suggestion before you head out for spring break this year would be to know what medications cause increased sun sensitivity. There are many commonly prescribed and over the counter medications that make people much more likely to get severe sunburns even with minimal sun exposure. Some medications that can cause increased sun sensitivity include Tetracycline, Minocycline, doxycycline, statins (atorvastatin, simvastatin, etc), Ibuprofen, St Johns wort, diuretics (furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide), seizure medications (chlorpromazine, perazine, etc), oral isotretinoin (Accutane), and many topical medications such as retinol, adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene, salicylic acid, and glycolic acid. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you are taking any medications that may cause increased sun sensitivity.