Woman checking her skin.

How to Protect Your Skin From the Desert Sun

Reduce your risk of skin cancer and photoaging with these tips from an expert.

Site Staff Health & Wellness, Sponsored

Woman checking her skin.

We spoke with Dr. John Montgomery Yost of West Dermatology, with locations in Rancho mirage and Palm Springs, to learn more about skin protection — which is crucial in the Coachella Valley. Here’s what he had to say.

What’s the best way to reduce the risk of skin cancer and photoaging?

Sun protection! The World Health Organization has actually classified ultraviolet radiation (light from the sun or from tanning beds) as a “group 1 carcinogen” — in the same category as tobacco smoke. There is no safe level of exposure without some form of protection. By no means does this imply that people should completely avoid the sun. I’m an avid tennis player, but you won’t find me on the court without my broad-brimmed hat, long-sleeve shirt, and with broad spectrum sunblock applied to all exposed skin. I generally recommend a sunscreen (chemical protection) or sun block (physical protection) with an SPF 40 or greater. Sun-protective clothing with a UPF above 50 is also great. Taking these steps will not only protect you against most types of skin cancer but also prevent photo damage and age related changes (wrinkles, dark spots) that come with sun exposure.

What’s the best way to prevent and/or treat dry skin?

This is another common question we get, it’s particularly relevant to those of us who live in the desert. Dry skin is actually more than a cosmetic concern, as it results in decreased skin barrier function. This can be problematic, as it predisposes affected individuals to developing eczema/dermatitis or even some skin infections. Fortunately, dry skin is easy to prevent and treat. The key is to lock water into the skin using a good moisturizer. Specifically, greasy or oil based products are best: coconut oil is my favorite, as it absorbs the quickest. Other thick ointments like petrolatum jelly (Vaseline) are also good. For people who want something less greasy, any thick moisturizing cream that comes in a jar is another good option. Practically, this means that I encourage my patients to apply their moisturizer of choice liberally to wet or damp skin (right after showering is best) on a consistent daily basis.

West Dermatology
72785 Frank Sinatra Drive, Suite 101
Rancho Mirage, California


Palm Springs Location
340 S Farrell Drive, Suite A205,
Palm Springs, California