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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sunburn in a Winter Wonderland

'Sunscreen and Snow' photo (c) 2009, Laurel F - license:

By this time, all your summer clothes have been packed up for the season, and you’ve unloaded all of your sweaters, coats, boots and other warm weather apparel. But what about your sunscreen? If you thought you didn’t need sunscreen in the winter, I’m here to tell you sunscreen should always be part of your daily regimen! While you might be semi-hibernating for the winter, the sun is not, and even small amounts of sun during a walk into a store from the parking lot can be damaging.  Here are some reasons you should still protect your skin, even during the winter.

Odds are you’ve seen pictures of people smiling people at the bottom of a ski run with that funny raccoon-faced look? All that redness doesn’t just come from windburn. Ice and snow works just like the water at the beach or a pool: it reflects UV rays. In the case of a snow skier, being at a higher elevation means the sunlight will be stronger, emitting more UV rays.  To avoid the red-faced raccoon look, use a sports sunscreen on your face that is at least 30 SPF.

Skin Cancer
Although other types of cancer may get more publicity, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to, “Each year, there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.” Skin cancer is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer.  So bundle up and cover up to help keep skin cancer at bay.

Youthful skin
Nothing ages skin faster than over exposure to the sun. Consider the example of a Chicago-area man, profiled in
this article, who looks 66 years old on one side of his face and 86 years old on the other. The man drove a semi-truck for nearly 30 years of his life, meaning the left side of his face was exposed to the sun for roughly eight hours a day. Take care of your skin to avoid looking 20 years older than you actually are.

Counteract Prescriptions
Many prescription medicines can leave you vulnerable to the sun, and while the sun may not seem as bright during the colder months, it can still cause skin damage. Some common medications that cause sensitivity to the sun are birth control pills, NSAIDs, antibiotics, antidepressants and diuretics. Ask your pharmacist if any of your medications could make you more sensitive to sunlight.

Extra moisture
Cold winter temperatures have a way of sucking all of the moisture not only out of the air, but also out of your skin. Why not doubly treat your skin by using a moisturizer combined with a sunscreen? This way, you’re keeping dry, cracked skin at bay, along with sunburns and wrinkles.

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