Save Yourself From Summer Health Hazards

Find out how to put your very best face forward this summer with skincare tips.

May 11, 2009 — -- Oprah Winfrey's favorite doctor, Mehmet Oz, tells you how to put your best face forward for the upcoming sunny season by revealing his top tips to avoid summer health hazards.

With only two weeks until Memorial Day, you don't want to miss this opportunity to protect yourself. Find out why sunglasses are about more than just a swank fashion statement and how hats can help you stay safe under the sun. Check out the good doctor's advice below.

The Importance of Sunglasses

Sunglasses are crucial because too much sun can damage your cornea. That damage can lead to cataracts, and hurt the retina, leading to macular degeneration.

When you buy sunglasses, price doesn't matter, but protection does. There's no correlation between price and quality.

You want sunglasses that block 99 percent of UVB rays and 50 percent of all UVA rays.

Wraparound and shatterproof sports sunglasses provide excellent protection if they have UV protection. These will also cover and protect the skin around your eyes, where we often forget to put sunscreen.

Be sure children wear sunglasses, too, and that their shades have UV protection.

This kind of damage is cumulative and children's eyes are most susceptible to UV damage because their eyes' lens has not yet begun to cloud.

Remember that UV damage is possible year-round, not just in the summer. You can still get damage on a cloudy day. And just as with fair skin, light colored eyes may need stronger protection because they have less pigmentation.

Finally, you also should ask for UV coating on your prescription glasses.

Hats: More Than Head Gear?

Hats help hair, but they are not adequate to protect the eyes. Remember that much sun is reflected back up to the face from sidewalks or the beach and this light hits more directly, rendering hats useless.

It's important to wear sunglasses with the proper protection as well.

Sun Exposure

Sun exposure isn't all bad. It's a key source of vitamin D. Even with that benefit, sun exposure should be limited to 15 minutes.

The best time to get that sun is before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m.

A great rule of thumb is to get it when your shadow is taller than you are. That means the sun is low enough in the sky to avoid the harsh sun that could be trouble.

One more tip: The right foods can help protect you from the sun. We consume antioxidants, so we need to replenish with lutein-containing leafy green veggies.

Eating tomatoes will help protect you against burns.

Protecting Yourself From Rashes

Poison ivy, oak and sumac are very similar. Poison ivy and oak are climbing vines with aerial rootlets, and they have three to five leaflets per leaf.

Sumac has seven to 13 leaflets per leaf and is found in swamp areas.

You get infected when you touch any part of the plant. Even breathing in smoke from the plant when it burns can cause a reaction.

Within two days of exposure, an itchy rash with blisters will form. The blisters don't spread the rash.

The spreading is caused by the spread of toxins on the skin. The skin's thickness may slow the spread.

The first thing to do if you come in contact with one of these plants is wash the affected area immediately with water only. Don't use soap because soap can spread the toxins and make it worse.

It's important to do this right away because the oil of the plant can only be washed off in the first 10 minutes. After that, you can only wash away half of the toxin. After an hour, none can be washed off.

It will take three to four weeks for the rash to go away.

Remedies to reduce the itchiness include a mixture of vinegar and water or calamine lotion. You also can soak the area in cool water with Aveeno Oatmeal Additive.

If it's really severe, your doctor can prescribe steroids in either cream or in pill form. Antihistamines don't help, but Benadryl or a topical hydrocortisone such as Cortaid could provide some relief.