Sun Protective Foods

flaxseedIt’s almost summertime and hopefully for most of you that means time at the beach, and lots of outdoor activities. Sun safety is an important topic- if you have ever had a bad sunburn, you know how painful it can be. Photoaging is also something to consider if you spend lots of time outdoors- a huge percentage of of wrinkles are due to sun exposure and damage.

For comprehensive skin protection, I suggest you:

  • incorporate the use of topical antioxidants in your skin care regimen to decrease UV-induced free radical damage
  • wear sun protective clothing, a wide brimmed hat, and sunglasses if you are going to be outdoors for an extended period of time
  • try to avoid direct sunlight between the hours of 11 AM and 3 PM because that is when the sun’s damaging rays are the strongest always opt for a a chemical-free sunscreen

And most importantly, fight with your fork! Choose from the following foods and eat your way to sun protection, as these guys pack a powerful punch against sun damage from the inside out.

Almonds have a lot of vitamin E, which helps defend against sun damage. One study showed that volunteers who consumed 14 milligrams of the vitamin per day (about 20 almonds) and then were exposed to UV light burned less than those who took none.

These little seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. The British Journal of Nutrition reported that participants in one study who consumed about half a teaspoon of omega-3s over 6 weeks experienced significantly less skin irritation and redness, as well as better-hydrated skin.

Lycopene, the phytochemical that makes watermelon red, helps eliminate skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet light. Besides helping to prevent sunburns, lycopene can also help prevent wrinkles. It strengthens the elasticity of skin tissues while keeping them from losing their tension.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin C which smoothes out wrinkles by stimulating the production of collagen. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that volunteers who consumed 4 milligrams of vitamin C (about half a small sweet potato) daily for 3 years decreased the appearance of wrinkles by 11 percent.

Leafy Greens
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, people who ate the most leafy greens had half as many skin tumors over 11 years as those who ate the least. The folate in these healing greens helps maintain and repair DNA, which reduces the likelihood of cancer-cell growth.

Green Tea
Green tea releases catechin, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. Research has found that drinking 2 to 6 cups a day of green tea helps prevent skin cancer. Topical green tea formulations have also been found to be protective from sun damage.

Grapes are full of proanthocyanidins, which have been shown to prevent UV damage and tumor development in hairless mice. If you are planing to lounge around the pool, have someone feed you grapes!

Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries have been found to inhibit compounds that induce UV damage. Grab a handful of berries before you head outside this summer.

Pomegranates are a great source of ellagic acid. According to research from research from the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University ellagic acid can help protect your skin from UVA- and UVB-induced cell damage.

One guava contains about 5 times as much vitamin C as a medium sized orange. Vitamin C is a potent free-radical fighting antioxidant which can prevent premature aging, as well as skin cancer.



Shaving can be a challenge for both men and women and may lead to irritation/razor burn or ingrown hairs. Here are tips from the American Academy of Dermatology, modified by Dr. Gewirtzman, to help you get a clean shave:

  • Before you shave, wet your skin and hair to soften it. Taking a shower or bath prior to shaving is a great way to soften your hair, but this may also be accomplished by applying a damp cloth to your face and neck (or legs, etc) for 1-2 minutes.
  • Apply a non-comedogenic moisturizer or pre-shave oil.
  • Next, apply a shaving cream or gel. While foam/gel from a can is convenient and effective, an even better alternative is to apply a high quality shaving soap or cream from a tube or tub and apply with a shaving brush. Use of a shaving brush helps to exfoliate as well as helping to lift the hairs more effectively. It also infuses the cream with water to create a richer lather than would be possible with fingers alone.
  • Use a razor with a sharp blade. Change blades or throw away disposable razors after 5 to 7 shaves to help minimize irritation. Note that more blades is not necessarily better. A high quality single razor blade (such as those used in double edge safety razors) will shave skin at the level of the skin rather than below the skin which leads to irritation.
  • Keep skin taut and shave lightly (do not push razor hard against face) to prevent nicks.
  • Be sure to shave in the direction that the hair grows. While shaving against the grain may give you a closer shave, it is a prime reason for redness, shaving bumps, and ingrown hairs.
  • Rinse face with cool water and apply moisturizing aftershave or facial moisturizer.

If you have questions or concerns about caring for your skin, you should make an appointment to see a dermatologist.

Already Proactive With Your Skin Care?


If you are on board with sunscreen, antioxidant and retin A and are looking for a boost think about adding a growth factor. Tensage was featured in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. It utilizes the unique SCA Technology, a growth factor, to slow and reverse the visible signs of aging. SCA is a naturally occurring SECRETION OF THE CRYPTOMPHALUS
ASPERSA. Scientists observed that the Cryptomphalus aspersa (a species of snail), following an injury, produced this secretion to repair its skin in as little as 24 hours.

How Much Topical Medication to Apply

topical-medicationIf you have visited Austin Dermatology Associates recently, there is a good chance that you have been prescribed a topical medication, whether it be a cream, ointment, gel, or lotion. But patients don’t always know how much of these topical medications to apply. If too little is used, the medication may not be as effective as it could be. Should too much be applied, there is an increased risk of irritation or other side effects as well as a higher treatment cost as the medicine runs out more quickly.

To help patients figure out how much medicine to apply, dermatologists developed an easy-to-use approach called the “fingertip unit.” A fingertip unit equals the amount of medicine that you can spread on your fingertip, as shown in the photo below, taken from the American Academy of Dermatology website.

Each part of the body requires a specific number of fingertip units. For example, if you have a rash on most of your scalp, you need to apply three fingertip units of medicine to your scalp. If the rash covers most of your elbow, you’d apply one fingertip unit.

The next time you need to apply topical medicine to your skin, you may reference the table below. It designates how many fingertip units to apply to each part of the body where the medication is indicated.

Scalp 3
Face & Neck 2.5
One Hand (front & back) – including fingers  1
One Entire Arm – including entire hand 4
Elbow (psoriasis covers most of elbow) 1
Both Soles 1.5
One Foot (top & bottom) – including toes 1.5
One Entire Leg – including entire foot 8
Buttocks 4
Knees (psoriasis covers most of knee) 1
Trunk (from bottom of neck to hipbones) 8
Genitals 0.5


Chart reproduced from the Psoriasis Guidelines of Care developed by the American Academy of Dermatology. (Menter A, Korman NJ, et al.“Guidelines of care for the management of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2009;60:643-59.)

Did You Know that Routine Sunscreen Use Can Decrease the Signs of Aging?

A recent study out of Australia shows that consistent use of sunscreen can slow the aging process. The study included 903 adults under the age of 55 that were followed for 4.5 years. Patients who applied sunscreen once daily saw 24% less skin aging. We love Elta formulations. They are cosmetically elegant and fragrance free.