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Column: Smooth over rough patches — how to keep healthy skin as temperatures rise

Ready for fun in the sun? Not without sunscreen, bug repellent and antihistamines, says Coquitlam pharmacist Kiran Basran.
Your skin deserves TLC with temperatures climbing higher, says a Coquitlam pharmacist.

Imagine this....

You've marked your calendar for a major event this season — perhaps it's a wedding, a beach getaway, or a family picnic.

As you prepare to look your best, your skin suddenly acts up. Whether it’s sun damage, hives, or insect bites, skin issues always seem to appear at the worst times.

Taking care of our skin goes beyond beauty — it’s crucial for our health. Our skin protects us from dehydration, bacterial infections, pollution, and more, playing a key role in our overall wellness.

Now, with the expanded scope of practice for pharmacists, residents of Coquitlam can visit their local pharmacy to have minor skin conditions assessed and treated, avoiding the hassle of waiting at a walk-in clinic and ensuring they don’t miss a moment of their special event.

Let's explore how pharmacists, like me, can help you treat common skin conditions and restore a healthy glow.

We all scream for sunscreen

Ready for fun in the sun? Not without your sunscreen!

Thanks to all things SPF, we can protect ourselves from sun exposure while also reducing our risk of developing skin cancer.

When browsing the sunscreen aisle at your local pharmacy, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Try to pick an SPF that is 30 or higher
    • SPF is related to the ability to screen out the sun’s UVB rays, and an SPF of 30 can block out 97 per cent of UVB rays
  • When available, look for broad spectrum as it protects against both UVA and UVB rays
  • If you are at the beach or pool this summer, look for a water-resistant sunscreen to protect you from the sun while splashing around in the water
  • Don’t forget, it’s not one and done
    • It’s recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or sooner depending on the product label

Buzz off, hives

Hives, which are triggered by the release of histamines as a defense against a potential allergen, are common among Canadians.

So common, that between 20 to 25 per cent of Canadians will experience hives at some point in their lives. And, at this time of year when pollen rates are high and insects are coming out of hibernation, I always see a spike in local cases. 

Luckily, B.C. residents don’t have to sweat too much when a flare-up occurs because pharmacists can help. We can quickly provide antihistamines to calm the itch and reduce swelling and offer both over-the-counter as well as prescription recommendations.

Plus, we've got lots of tips and tricks to avoid triggers and manage discomfort, whether it's suggesting the right skincare products or advising on lifestyle adjustments.

Itching away insects 

People aren’t the only ones who are looking forward to summer.

Insects, such as mosquitoes, enjoy the hotter temperatures, which means you may be hearing them buzzing around you more frequently starting in the spring and into the summer.

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from mosquitoes is by applying repellent.

If you find the repellent aisle overwhelming, your pharmacist can help with recommendations. If your insect bites are more than an uncomfortable itch, your pharmacist can also access and prescribe treatment if necessary.

Your skin deserves TLC, and pharmacists are here to help.

The best part is that we are available even when primary care offices are closed and can provide acute care for a range of minor conditions fast, reducing strains on other parts of the healthcare system.

Check in with your local pharmacist for quick and convenient support for all your health needs.

Kiran Basran is a pharmacist and owner of your local Shoppers Drug Mart in Coquitlam.