"To reduce sun damage and cancer risk, use sunscreen liberally and daily," says Dr. Pamela Scheinman, dermatologist with the New England Medical Center. "Combined with other sun avoidance behaviors, such as covering yourself with clothing, substantially reduces exposure to ultraviolet light that can lead to melanoma, as well as basal and squamous cell skin cancer."
Dr. Scheinman recommends sunscreens with an SPF of at least 15, available as lotions, gels, and creams. She advises, "Be sure to apply liberally every day and at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. Use the waterproof form when swimming or during strenuous activity and re-apply often."
Two-thirds of all Americans are allergic to poison ivy, oak or sumac. Reactions can begin as quickly as 10 minutes after exposure with blisters and itching lasting up to 10 days.
"The allergens are long-lived so direct contact isn't needed and. Even petting a dog that has been through a poison ivy patch can result in a reaction," says Dr. Scheinman, adding, "Protection is available in over-the-counter products that are applied like a sunscreen to protect against the oils in these plants."
Nickel, in jewelry, snaps and buckles, is the fastest growing and biggest cause of contact skin rashes in North America today, states the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. "Nickel allergies have increased 40% during the past five years," says Dr. Scheinman.
"Nickel rashes increase during the summer, because sweat leaches nickel from metal - typically jewelry. Also, beach-going teens are more apt to have ears and bodies pierced. To avoid these problems look for jewelry made with surgical stainless steel or nickel-free alloys and have piercing done by a pro with surgical stainless steel studs. You may buy a nickel test kit and check jewelry using a cotton swab." notes Dr. Scheinman.