Half-marathons: You can’t outrun the sun
You’ve trained long and hard for that half-marathon. You’ve run endless miles for endless hours to prepare yourself. You’re in prime physical shape, but what about your skin? While half-marathon running is great physical exercise, it can also be dangerous – even deadly – for your skin if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
“As the popularity of half-marathons continues to increase, runners need to balance the health effects of the sport with their extended exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays,” said American Society for Dermatologic Surgery President Timothy C. Flynn, M.D. “It’s true that too much of a good thing can be bad, and the sun is no exception. Skin cancer is too great a danger to be taken lightly.”You can protect yourself by:
- Covering your skin with lightweight, sun-protective attire.
- Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher to the face and body (including the scalp, ears, around the eyes, the underside of the chin and the backs of the hands) even on cloudy days when 80 percent of the sun’s UV radiation is still present.
- Treating the lips, one of the most sun-sensitive spots on the body, with a lip balm of SPF 15 or higher.
- Running during training along a shaded route or in off-peak hours, particularly avoiding exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Wearing sunglasses since UV radiation can be damaging not only to the eyes but also the skin around them.
- Drinking plenty of water to keep both body and skin hydrated, especially when sweating.
Correcting the Damage
Yet, what should you do if the sun already has damaged your skin? The natural process of aging, when the skin thins and lines and wrinkles appear, is only exacerbated by sun damage. Advanced signs of aging and sun damage often can require:
- Wrinkle-relaxing injections to immobilize specific muscles that will not only soften existing wrinkles but also will prevent new ones from forming.
- Chemical peels to remove the top layer of skin, allowing the skin to regenerate.
- Soft-filler injections beneath the skin to replace the body’s natural collagen that has been lost to treat wrinkles, scars and facial lines.
- Dermabrasion to remove the top layers of skin to minimize small scars, minor skin surface irregularities, surgical scars and acne scars.
- Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy, which delivers multiple wavelengths of light with each pulse to remove damaged skin.
- Laser skin resurfacing, which rejuvenates damaged skin and minimizes wrinkles and fine scars.
“Thanks to advances spearheaded by ASDS dermatologists, a multitude of cosmetic procedures are available today to treat sun damage and revitalize the health and beauty of the skin,” Flynn said. “Patients are finding that the training and expertise of dermatologic surgeons make them the best choice to perform these procedures.”