Don’t let the cold weather fool you! Just because you may not feel the heat of the sun in the winter, the ultraviolet radiation from the sun is still harming your skin. Think of snow as a big white beach, Dr. Thomas Rohrer tells his patients at SkinCare Physicians.
Winter sports enthusiasts, who often spend all day outside, are especially at risk for excessive sun exposure that can lead to sunburn, premature skin aging, and skin cancer. Here are two reasons why:
Snow reflects UV radiation four times more than sand on a beach. Up to 80% of the UV radiation is reflected off the snow back on to your face. That means you get hit twice by the sun’s rays, once from above and then again from below.
UV radiation increases with altitude so skiers and snow boarders are at an even greater risk for damage. In fact, since radiation exposure increases 4 to 5 percent every 1,000 feet above sea level, those at the top of most ski resorts are exposed to 30 – 50% more radiation than if they were at a beach at sea level. I know the worst sunburn I ever experienced was during a day of skiing in college when I did not go back in the lodge to reapply sunscreen.
Enjoy winter activities but be careful out there. In addition to protecting your head with a helmet, skiers and snow boarders should:
Apply a liberal amount of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF factor of 30 or greater before going out to the slopes. Do this even on cloudy days. Up to 80% of the sun’s damaging rays penetrate clouds and harm your skin on those overcast days.
Use a lip balm with an SPF of 15 or greater.
Sunscreen wears and snow and sweating can remove sunscreen even faster than usual. So reapply your sunscreen every two hours while out on the slopes.
Keep a small travel sized sunscreen and lip balm in your ski coat pocket for frequent reapplication.
Use sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
Use moisturizers before and after a day on the slopes as the harsh winter conditions can be particularly drying to your skin.
Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration and minimize the risk of altitude sickness.
Have fun this winter and be sure to protect your skin.
What are you packing in your sport bag this winter?
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