Healthy Summer Skin

Enjoy a lifetime of benefit by protecting your skin from sun damage.

VM Magazine

Summer 2002

There is no such thing as a healthy tan,” says Virginia Mason dermatologist, Ulrike I. Ochs, M.D., “Sun exposure causes the most damage to our skin and is the single biggest culprit in aging skin.”

Many studies prove that the chances of developing skin cancer increase in direct proportion to sun exposure. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), malignant melanoma has increased 1,800 percent since 1930. The EPA also warns that sun exposure not only causes sunburn, skin cancer and premature aging, but it can also cause eye damage and suppress your immune system.

Both tanning and burning cause premature aging because sun exposure degrades collagen and elastin, the primary components of youthful looking skin. Sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes of unprotected exposure. Although most doctors advise avoiding the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., most sun-starved Northwesterners have a tough time complying. Rather than playing tennis and golf at night, there are other ways to limit harmful exposure.

Cloudy or sunny, you still need protection

Clouds and haze do not hinder ultraviolet (UV) rays, which are reflected and sometimes intensified by surfaces such as water, cement and sand. Follow these tips to reduce your sun exposure whether it’s cloudy or sunny:

Sunscreen or sunblock — what’s the difference?

Sunscreens protect the skin with chemicals that absorb the harmful ultraviolet light rays. Sunblocks provide physical barriers to light with tiny particles suspended in the lotion or gel. Sunblocks contain either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in micronized forms that make lotions sheer and more absorbent. Dr. Ochs recommends sunblocks because they block all wavelengths and are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Another plus for sunblocks is that they don’t sting if they get into your eyes.

Dr. Ochs cautions parents that babies are particularly vulnerable to the sun and can even become sunburned while riding in the car unless the windows are tinted to block UV light. She advises against applying sunblock or sunscreen to children younger than six months of age. Instead, cover up infants as much as possible and keep them in the shade.

Sun protection for kids

Often, kids are just too excited about jumping into the pool to stand still for lotion application. Some kids don’t like the odor or consistency of sunscreens. What to do?
Hydrate your whole body

Your skin and body suffer when you don’t drink enough fluids. Dehydration often occurs in summer months so be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water every day. If you’re thirsty, you’re already slightly dehydrated. Remember beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine are diuretics and contribute to dehydration. Most soft drinks contain added sugar and sodium, which can make you thirstier and offer no nutritional value. Stick to water, natural juices and sports drinks.

Whether you’re playing golf in the morning, at noon or during the night, remember to use caution when enjoying yourself in the sun and to drink plenty of water.

Visit to purchase professional skin care products. The Cosmetic Services Group at Virginia Mason also offers dermatological and aesthetician services.

Please call 1/877/341-0600 for more information, or visit Virginia Mason’s Cosmetic Services Group on the Web at

“Winter often leaves skin feeling dry and dull,” says Angela O'Neill, L.C.A., lead aesthetician at the Skin Care & Massage Center. “As seasons change, sometimes simply changing your regimen can make a huge impact on the skin.” The center offers an integrated approach to healthy skin. Dermatologists and aestheticians (skin care therapists) partner to offer a full range of in-office treatments.

The Skincare & Massage Center offers a variety of services including facial treatments, waxing, make-up application, refinement treatments and full-body/seated massage. The center recently introduced three new treatments, which are administered by licensed massage practitioners:

Refining treatments improve skin

Did you worship the sun and now find you are unhappy with the sun damage left behind? Try a complimentary skin care consultation with an aesthetician at Skin Care & Massage Center. “We’re result-oriented here,” says Angela O’Neill. “As a medical facility, we’re able to use pharmaceutical grade products that contain higher levels of active ingredients.”

The aestheticians offer a variety of services and products to promote healthy skin. Treatments at the center can also complement doctors’ care. Most refining treatments are quick and painless and can be done on a lunch hour with little to no recovery time. Refining treatments offered by the center include:

Rejuvenation enhances appearance

Virginia Mason’s Cosmetic Services Group, made up of physicians from different medical and surgical departments including dermatology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, otolaryngology/facial plastic surgery and ophthalmology, work together as a dedicated team to enhance the physical appearance of patients. Rejuvenation treatments include:

Ulrike I. Ochs, M.D.
Angela O'Neill, L.C.A.
The Cosmetic Services Group at Virginia Mason
Skin Care & Massage Center