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Cyclist Oath: Protect and Defend...Your Skin
By Jim Joyce
Editor note: The main source for this article just happens to be the Ed.'s wife. Hey, it's only taken three years to interview her. This is not necessarily the easiest source to track down.
Sure, much ado is made about stretching, clothing, eye protection, and head injury prevention. What about the skin? Cyclists take heed.
"The skin is the largest organ in the body, with an average size of 118 square feet," says Paulette Joyce, registered nurse and skin care coordinator for UPMC St. Margaret Hospital, nearby Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "It is our protector and thermoregulator, but you must take care of it if you want it to last a lifetime."
"Cleanse, moisturize, and protect," says Joyce. "When it comes to caring for your skin, these are the three most important things to remember."
Skin care is especially important as fair Spring weather arrives and eager cyclists suddenly leave the sun-sheltered abode and hit the road and trail.
Before heading out the door, "always add sun screen, even it you have darker skin." Everyone, she says, requires a minimum level of protection against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Those with darker skin should use at least UV4, or Sun Factor (SF) 4, level of sun screen. Persons with pale or fair skin should use no less than UV45 level, while those with a medium level of skin color need a at least UV8 to be safe. If you are not sure what category your skin falls into, err on the side of safety and use a higher SF or UV screen.
Perspiration dilutes and removes most sun screen, says Joyce, so make sure you re-apply it about every two hours during heavy sweating.
The most common mistake active people make is taking frequent hot showers. "Use warm instead of hot," Joyce says, "Hot causes the skin to dry out, giving you a higher chance of getting burned because your first layer of protection has been taken out."
When washing use a mild soap, "something without a lot of perfume," which tends to irritate the skin. Nothing fancy is needed, says Joyce, and she cites "Dial" as a mild, low-perfume soap.
After cleansing, moisturizing is the key to healthy skin. What type of moisturizer you use, says Joyce, depends on your skin type---whether it is dry, oily, or mixed.
As with sun screen, she adds, common sense says that persons with dry or fair skin need a better moisturizing product. But there are so many brands on store shelves these days that choosing one can be confusing. "Eucerin" is an example of a lotion that is good for dry skin. It is especially helpful to people with sensitive skin, who often develop rashes, and for those with the lightest of skin. "Clinique" also carries superior products for sensitive and ultra-fair skin.
"Most other moisterizers, whether they are name brand or store brand, will work for the other skin types."
Skin Protection Summary
Cyclists, take the protect and defend pledge:
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