• Winter Sun Safety Tips

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    There are a great many people who would never go to the beach or any outdoor activity without using sunscreen in the summer. Many of these same people will also tell you that you don’t need sunscreen in the winter because there is little or no sun. Nothing could be further from the truth though. Ninety per cent of all skin cancers come from too much sun exposure and the winter sun is no less damaging. Although you may think of frostbite and wind burn as the main dangers to your skin in the winter, it’s actually the sun’s dangerous UV rays that are still the major concern. Protecting yourself is easy though, if you have a little knowledge beforehand.

    The Higher You Travel the Stronger the Sun

    Skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports are great fun, but the higher the altitude the greater the strength of the sun’s UV rays, as much as a 5 per cent increase with every 1,000 foot climb in altitude. The snow also reflects approximately 80 per cent of the sun’s rays back to you so, in essence, you are hit with a double whammy of exposure.

    Limit Your Time in the Sun

    Even on a cloudy day up to 80 per cent of the sun’s rays still reach the earth, which means they reach your skin too. UV rays go through thin clothing, clouds, even glass. Sunscreen helps to defend your skin, but it does not mean you have complete protection. Try to avoid being in direct sunlight between 10am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.

    Wear Sunscreen

    No matter the weather, wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 20 or greater on all exposed skin. Apply it at least 30 minutes before you head outside. Most people do not apply sufficient amounts of sunscreen. Use at least 1 teaspoon on your face alone and a shot glass size amount on the rest of your body.

    Cold weather, wind, and snow wear away sunscreen even more quickly than normal. Look for a product with glycerin or lanolin to help keep your skin from drying out. Take frequent breaks during outdoor activities, at least every two hours, and head inside to reapply sunscreen. Don’t neglect those seldom thought about areas such as under the chin, the tops of the ears, the lips, and the back of the neck. Wear lip balm with an SPF of at least 15 and keep it in a pocket to reapply often. Your lips are particularly sensitive to sun burn.

    Cover Up

    Cover your head, it will keep you warm and protect your scalp. This is especially important for bald men and those with thinning hair. Consider wearing a ski mask which covers considerably more skin than a beanie type hat alone.

    Wear sunglasses that have a wraparound feature and block 99 per cent of the suns UV rays. Not only do sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun, but they keep you from squinting, which causes crow’s feet and other wrinkles around the eyes.

     

    Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at A Beautiful Smile at Lake Pointe, a Sugar Land dental office. Zane thinks that it’s hard to protect your skin in the winter.

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