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Is one sunburn that bad?

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By Karen Cicero
From
Completely You


Confession: I'm writing this blog entry at the pool. My daughter, Katie, and I have been spending a lot of time here this summer.

A couple of years ago, I used to sweat taking Katie -- who has very fair skin -- to the pool and playground. But then I met Dr. Elizabeth Alvarez Connelly, a dermatologist from sun-kissed Miami, who literally changed my life. Let me tell you what happened.

I needed a dermatologist to go to the beach for a magazine story I was writing. Yes, it was my crazy idea. I was nervous about  finding a skin doc to do it because anyone in the profession avoided the beach and other sunny spots -- or at least wouldn't admit to going there.

But Alvarez Connelly actually told me she takes her kids to the beach almost every weekend! Here are the three pieces of advice she gave me that I will never forget.


Tan Lines Are Bad


Yes, it's true: One blistering sunburn in childhood -- or five in adulthood -- double the risk of skin cancer. Read more about that here.

But Alvarez Connelly emphasized that you should avoid getting tan lines too. They signal that your sun-protection plan is falling short, and you need to fix it before you end up with that blistering burn.


Rash guards Rule


Alvarez Connelly's family stays sun-safe at the beach by covering themselves with clothing. "The less skin you have exposed, the less sunscreen you have to put on," says Alvarez Connelly.

And since sunscreen isn't 100 percent effective in blocking the rays and you have to re-apply often, it's better to protect your family with clothing when you can. Since then, I've been on the lookout for cute long-sleeve rashguards and swim skirts for Katie. Lands' End seems to have the most fashionable picks that won't cost you a fortune. Here's the one she's wearing this summer. 

While I was shopping, I picked up a solid-color rashguard for myself too.


Carry Sunscreen in Your Purse


A good chunk of my family's sun exposure doesn't come from being at the pool or beach. It's shopping at the farmers' market, taking an unplanned detour to feed the ducks at the pond or eating on the patio of our favorite restaurant downtown.

For these times, Alvarez Connelly recommends carrying sunscreen with you. I started keeping a sunscreen stick in my purse for use on the face; plus I discovered these convenient sunscreen wipes that are much easier to apply than the spray-on version.


What are your sun-safe secrets?

 

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