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Jennell Nelson, MD
The Sun, UV-Rays, and Winter A Dangerous Combination
Nelson Dermatology
. http://www.nelsonskin.net/

The Sun, UV-Rays, and Winter A Dangerous Combination

Many associate winter with windburn and frostbite, and are unware of the fact that the sun's UV rays can be just as dangerous if not more so in the winter than in the summer months. Especially for those who participate in outdoor winter activities, like skiers or snowboarders, the combination of higher altitude and UV rays reflected by the snow putting people who participate in winter sports at an increased risk of sun damage, and ultimately skin cancer.

It is extremely important to use your SPF-30 and up sun screen in the winter, as it is in the summer. More than 90 percent of all skin cancers are associated with sun exposure.

Higher altitude means increase risk of sun induced skin damage, since UV radiation exposure increases four to five percent with every 1,000 feet above sea level. At an altitude of 10,000 feet, UV radiation may be up to 45 percent more intense than at sea level in the summer during your vacation. Additionally, snow reflects up to 80 percent of the UV light from the sun, meaning you can potentially be hit by the same rays twice; only increasing the risk for skin damage.

Both snow and strong winds can wear away at sunscreens, ultimately reducing its effectiveness, so it is important to take many things into consideration when protecting yourself. Choosing the right sunscreen is an imperative part of this process.

Apply the sunscreen at least 30 minutes before hitting the slopes, and apply it liberally to all exposed skin. Especially in the winter, use a moisturizing sunscreen with ingredients like lanolin or glycerin to help keep your skin from getting chapped. With whipping winds and indoor heating, your skin needs moisture. Resort to your creams over the winter, rather than your lotions at this time of year to keep your skin supple and moisturized.

Taking care of your skin is very important year round, however more people are under prepared for the damage winter can take on one's skin. Taking simple precautions, like regularly applying a good sunscreen, can drastically reduce your chances of getting skin cancer.

Talk to your dermatologist about the steps you can take to protect yourself, and the options to reduce your chances of skin cancer year round. By educating yourself, you are helping yourself prolong the quality and length of your life.

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