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Just because winter is here doesn’t mean sunburn isn’t still a risk. And every sunburn increases chances of further skin damage, including skin cancer. Follow these sun safety tips to decrease risk and protect skin this winter. Even with cold weather, sun damage is still a present danger. Many people don’t realize sunscreen is need as well as extra sun safety precautions in the winter. But following some simple tips can protect skin and decrease chances of sun damage.
Just because skin is less exposed during the winter, that doesn’t mean sunburn or isn’t still a risk. During the winter, it’s important to still apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, particularly the face and neck, every day. Look for a sunscreen that is labeled broad spectrum, has an SPF of 30 or higher, and is water-resistant.
People need to be even more vigilant about sunscreen use when playing winter sports. Most people don’t use enough sunscreen and often overlook places like ears, underneath the chin, and the hands. Reapply sunscreen every two hours and immediately after heavy sweating.
Exposure to UV rays increases by up to 5% with every 1,000 feet above sea level. For people who enjoy winter sports like skiing or snowboarding, taking sun safety precautions is even more important. This means that at an altitude of 10,000 feet, sun exposure can be up to 45% more intense than at sea level.
Snow presents further risk in the winter, as it can reflect UV rays. This means that when spending time outdoors in the snow, people are hit with the same UV rays twice. Many people are conditioned to only take sunburn precautions in summer. But risk of sunburn is still present in winter.
An oft-overlooked area of sun safety is protecting lips. Lips are extremely sensitive to sunburn. People should make it a habit to wear a lip balm of SPF 15 or higher every day, and reapply every few hours when spending time outdoors.
Most people have experienced stepping into the sun and squinting because of the sun’s brightness. Because of snow, on sunny winter days the sun’s rays can be even more reflective and damaging to eyes. To most effectively protect eyes, wear sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB light and have polarized lenses to reduce glare.
When applying sunscreen, one of the hardest-to-reach areas is the hairline. To reduce risk of getting a scalp sunburn, wear a hat outdoors. Hats also can protect the forehead and provide some shade for eyes.
The sun’s rays are typically strongest in the middle of the day, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. For those who enjoy skiing or jogging outdoors in the winter, try hitting the slopes or lacing up the running shoes first thing in the morning or last thing before nightfall. This will help to minimize sun exposure.