Sunburned? Now what?

Tips for treating sunburns

No matter how hard we try, it happens sometimes.  You get sunburned.  This year, I got one on my chest while sitting under an umbrella reading poolside (I neglected to consider those reflecting rays.)  Lily had one on her thighs from the sunscreen wearing off while going down the water slide hundreds of times at the beach. It happens to all of us.

So, now what are you going to do?… Sunburns are uncomfortable at best and sometimes painful or itchy.  From a dermatologists perspective they are a sign that the skin has been severely damaged by the sun.

That leads me to the #1 most important tip for treating a sunburn.  TAKE AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY.  These include NSAIDS (Ibuprofen, Aleve, Advil and Motrin) as well as Aspirin.  Take a dose as soon as you recognize the sunburn and continue for 24- 48 hours at the dose directed on the label.  This cuts down on the inflammatory response that your body is having in response to the sunburn.  It not only helps with the discomfort, it may also reduce some of the long term damage from the sunburn.

#2 is equally simple.  Cool compresses, a cool bath and cool (even refrigerated) clear aloe gel are very soothing.

#3 is a new thing I am adding to my regimen lately  –  ZO Skin Health’s Daily Power Defense.  This product is amazing in that it actively works to repair the damage done by the UV rays.  When skin is damaged by the sun, the DNA of the skin cell is damaged.  This product contains DNA repair enzymes to repair the damage.

For more details, check out this link to a video from the AAD with tips to treat sunscreen and these tips from the skin cancer foundation.

Question: When, where and how did you get your worst sunburn? And let me know if you have any remaining questions regarding sunburn therapy. You can leave a comment by clicking here.



sunscreen - zincEver been overwhelmed at the store when trying to quickly pick up a sunscreen before heading out to the pool, beach or sporting event? Then, you arrive at the store and the choices are overwhelming.

So, how does a dermatologist pick a sunscreen??

#1  TURN IT OVER – Turn the tube or bottle over and look at the back.  Check out the active ingredients.  This is the VERY MOST important step.  I like sunscreens with just physical blocking, non-chemical sunscreens, zinc oxide and titanium oxide as active ingredients.  Zinc and titanium are the safest, most thorough and least irritating active ingredients.  See the table below that demonstrates that only zinc provides the most thorough protection across the UV spectrum.  BUT WAIT!!! No, you won’t have a pasty white lifeguard nose.  They now make the particles much smaller so these blend in with the skin much better.

#2 LOOK FOR WATER RESISTANCE – In most of the situations where we need sunscreen, water resistance is essential.  The sunscreen should be labeled “Water resistant – XX minutes”.  In most cases Water Resistant  = 40 minutes and  Very Water Resistant  = 80 minutes.

#3 WHAT ABOUT SPF?  SPF measures the length of time a product protects against skin reddening from UVB, compared to how long the skin takes to redden without protection. If it takes 20 minutes of exposure without protection to induce reddening, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer – about 5 hours (15×20 minutes=300/60=5 hours).  Considering that the SPF is developed using a whole ounce to the entire body, most everyone does not apply enough sunscreen and does not get the full SPF suggested on the label. While SPF is the universal measurement of UVB protection, no comparable standard exists for UVA.   Also, independent of the SPF, you still have to reapply up to every 40-80 minutes dependent on water resistance. If not in water, the recommendation generally is to reapply every 2 hours when in direct sun.



For the face:  Fallene SPF 58 and ZO Skin Health Sunscreen + Primer. Both of these are available in our office. I wear one of these on my face and neck EVERY DAY!

Chemical Free for the Body:  Cerave Face and Body SPF 50, Neutrogena Pure & free Baby, Aveeno Baby Natural Protection. These are the ones I found on a recent trip to our local Walmart.

Spray Sunscreens WITH Chemicals: In hard to treat areas like the scalp and ears, a spray is better than nothing at all.  Make sure you rub it in after spraying.  Make sure these say “Broad Spectrum”. Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Body Mist Sunscreen and Neutrogena wet skin

 A wide brimmed hat and protective clothing are also great.  I recommend the Coolibar website ( for protective clothing.  Look for the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Approval on Sun Protection Products ( the eye area further by wearing sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB.



FOR MORE DETAILS… See our page about sunscreen under the Patient Education Tab.

Sunscreen Tips 2015


Poison Ivy

4 Tips to avoid it ruining your summer this year

IMG_1551[1]A little background first… The rash seen after contacting poison ivy is technically called allergic contact dermatitis. You can have contact dermatitis from contact with lots of different allergens.

1-The rash occurs as a direct result of exposure to the oils from the plant.  Poison ivy contains an oil allergen called urushiol.  The allergen is the same in poison oak and poison sumac.  DERM MD TIP: It is very difficult to tell what plant or other allergen caused the rash just by looking at the rash itself.  Just a reminder that poison ivy has 3 leaves so remember the old adage “leaves of three, let it be!” Poison oak has 3 to 5 leaves, and poison sumac has 7 to 13 leaves on a branch.

2-The skin absorbs the urushiol oil quickly, so wash immediately with soap and cool water if you know you have come in contact with a poisonous plant.  The oil can remain for some time on clothing, tools, boots, gloves and can be carried in by pets.  As a good habit, remove all clothes when coming in from working or playing in the yard.  I try to turn my work clothes and gloves inside out, especially if I am not putting them in the washer immediately. Otherwise, I could contact the oils again when doing the laundry.  DERM MD TIP: You only get a rash from initial contact with the oils of the “poisonous” plant.  You cannot spread the rash on your own body by scratching it.  The blisters and rash are not “contagious”.  The rash develops at different times, on average 1-7 days after exposure to the oils.  The development of the rash depends on the “dose” of the oil received and the thickness of the skin where it contacts.

3-Using products like Ivy Block are not foolproof.  There are a number of OTC products that contain bentoquatam.  This is a chemical that cuts down on the absorption of the oils by the skin.  DERM MD TIP:  Wear long pants and long sleeves as much as possible outside.  The side benefit is avoiding sun and insect exposure.  I like the lightweight water-wicking exercise or hiking clothes with UPF>30.

4-If you do develop poison ivy, it is best to treat it topically unless it involves an orifice (mouth, nose, eyes, ears, genitalia) or covers a large part of the body.  It is NOT a good idea to go to urgent care and get a steroid shot or a Medrol Dosepack.  Here’s why… If we consider the day you come in contact with the oils of the plant Day ZERO, it usually takes about 4 days for the rash to get bad enough for you to the doctor.  Once there, if prescribed a 6 day course of medicine, you are out of medicine at Day 10.  DERM MD TIP:  Poison ivy rash can often take 21 days or more to run its course, and in my experience the reaction peaks at day 10-14.  So, with a 6 day course of medicine, patients run out of medicine at the PEAK.  For severe cases, I often recommend a 15 day tapering dose of oral prednisone to get patients on the other side of that peak.


For more details, you can wash the informational video from the AAD.

Or check out their online reference for Poison Ivy.

DSC01219While I am not quite a soccer Mom yet, I attended BIG KICK SOCCER CAMP, sponsored by our church, South Ridge Church, with Lily and Ella last year.  We planned to be spectators because they are so young and know NOTHING about soccer.  Lily (then 4) quickly jumped in on the action.  When we got home one night I said, “Great Job, Lily!  You even made a few goals!” Lily replied, “What’s a goal?” OK, so maybe she did not get the whole meaning of soccer at 4 years old, but she also LOVED the rest of the excitement of the evening.  There was a fun time of silliness, a serious time for learning about God, and a yummy snack.  What’s not to love.  So, this a a little personal invitation.  If you have kids, age 4 to rising 5th grader, you should check out the site and consider bringing them.  You can register online at  The registration fee is $40.  I would be happy to sponsor a few kids, if someone needs a little help.  Just call the office and ask for me to call you back about BIG KICK.

Event: Big Kick Soccer Camp
Sponsor: South Ridge Church
Venue: Marion County Youth Soccer Complex