Are you thinking about sun protection in the cold winter months? Sunlight,specifically UV radiation, is the Number #1 cause of skin cancer as well as unsightly wrinkles, age spots, thinning, more fragile skin, in short... dreaded premature aging? It is easy to forget about the dangers of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation when the majority of your body is covered and protected with layers of clothing. But what about the exposed areas of your body like your face and hands. The winter months are not the time to let down your guard against premature aging and skin cancer.
With you and your family's sun safety in mind, here are 5 things to keep in mind about winter sun protection:
- UVA radiation is high in the winter doing damage: UVB radiation decreases during the winter months but dangerous UVA radiation is still in full force ... and for the whole day. Both UVA and UVB contribute to skin cancer however UVA is thought to play a more dramatic role in premature aging.
- Sun damage is cumulative. Many peopledo not realize that the worst areas for skin cancer and premature aging are those areas exposed day-in and day-out throughout the year, not just in the summertime. Over the years, small doses of ultraviolet light that never cause overt skin damage cause a collection of micro-scars that damage the skin. The result is skin damage.
- Cloudy weather does not offer much protection - up to 80% of UV radiation can penetrate this deceptive cover and cause harm to your skin.
- Higher altitudes mean dramatically more UV radiation - For every 1,000 feet you climb in altitude, UV radiation increase 4%. This fact is especially important to all you skiers and snow boarders wearing just a knit stocking cap. Both brimmed winter sun hat and broad spectrum sunscreen is crucial to your sun safety.
- Beware! Medications can mean unexpected sun sensitivity - Protecting your skin from the sun's rays is always important, but it becomes even more so when your medication causes photosensitivity. Hundreds of medications,(including everyday antibiotics, hormones and diuretics) may cause you to be extra sun sensitive.
So what's a body to do? Let's start with the face. Wearing a winter sun hat with a brim will dramatically reduce the sunlight striking your face coming directly from the sun. Many winter sun hats also have the advantage of being rainproof or made of wool felt. You can also cover your face with fabric like the SunGaiter above. See our other unique total face and neck protectors.
Don't forget UV radiation that has been reflected up or scattered from a surface such as snow, water or sand. It is extremely important to protect yourself from these reflective sunrays which are almost as dangerous as direct rays. Snow, for example, can reflect up to 80% of a full dose of sun. To combat reflective rays, wear a thick coat of broad spectrum sunscreen reapplied throughout the day. Our other total face protectors are also good for reflective rays.
For you hands and arms, if you are not wearing winter mittens and layers of winter clothing, wear sun gloves and sun sleeves to protect exposed skin.
Making the effort to protect your skin in the winter months will go far in preventing skin cancer and keeping you looking young. Why not make the effort today to protect your tomorrows?
This material is provided for information only. It is not a substitute for your doctor or health care provider. If you have any health questions or concerns you should see your doctor or health care provider.