Men are rapidly gaining ground on women when it comes to skin care.
More than half of the men (51 percent) in a recent Harris Interactive survey admitted that they are caring for their skin better than ever before.
But despite an increased attention to skin care among men, many are still relatively unaware of what triggers common skin maladies and how best to treat them. For example, the survey found more than one-third of men (34 percent) are not sure what triggers cold sores, a common skin affliction that affects an estimated 50 million people in the United States.
Dermatologists caution that what their male patients don’t know about skin care can hurt them. At a time when men are more image conscious than ever, they need to be aware of common risks, such as overexposure to sunlight, which can trigger unsightly cold sores and a host of other skin care issues.
“Ultraviolet (UV) light from sunshine and other sources is one of the most common cold sore triggers,” says Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York. “Not knowing that sunlight can cause cold sores and being unprepared to treat them can lead to larger, longer-lasting and more-painful outbreaks.”
For image-conscious males who want to make the embarrassing blemishes disappear as quickly as possible, Dr. Jaliman recommends being prepared with over-the-counter medications such as Abreva, as opposed to lip balms and other treatments that can only claim to offer temporary, symptomatic relief.
“Abreva is the only nonprescription cold sore medicine approved by the FDA to shorten the healing time and duration of symptoms,” she says. “The sooner you start treatment, the more effective you can be in limiting the cold sore’s severity and duration.”
Dr. Jaliman also recommends that those prone to cold sore outbreaks:
• Limit sun exposure, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun is at its strongest.
• Avoid tanning beds because the UV light they generate is just as likely as sunlight to trigger an outbreak.
• Wear sunscreen and lip moisturizer with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply throughout the day.
• Wear a hat to avoid sun exposure to the delicate skin of the face and mouth.
• Be cautious of the sunlight’s reflection from water and concrete.
• Carry Abreva at all times, as it is most effective when used at the first sign of a cold sore.