When you’re bundled up for some fun in the snow, the thought of possibly getting a sunburn probably doesn’t cross your mind. The fact is that UV rays are still a cause for concern, even during the year’s coldest months. The good news is that you can still enjoy your favorite outdoor winter activities and protect your skin at the same time. Read on for some helpful winter sun safety tips that you’ll want to keep in mind.
Can You Get a Sunburn in the Winter?
Yes, you can get sunburned during winter. And, while that may seem ironic, it’s entirely possible. The Skin Cancer Foundation names two types of UV light as proven contributors to the risk of developing skin cancer: UVA and UVB rays.
UVA (Ultraviolet A) rays have a longer wavelength and are associated with skin aging.
UVB (Ultraviolet B) rays have a shorter wavelength and are associated with skin burning.
UVB and UVA rays are most prevalent during summer, but that doesn’t mean they’re simply not around during fall, winter, and spring. These rays can damage your skin, whether it’s late July or late December. Snow and ice reflect up to 80% of the sun’s UV light, so you’re essentially being hit twice at different angles.
And not just to stay warm! Covering up will help protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays. It’s easier to cover up in the winter than it is during the warmer months, because accessories like hats, scarves, gloves, etc. will keep you warm and provide protection from the sun. Sunglasses or goggles with 100% UV protection are also recommended.
Choose the right sunscreen for your outdoor adventures; a good sunscreen should be water-resistant, broad-spectrum, and have at least SPF 30 coverage. Apply sunscreen to any areas that’ll be exposed to sunlight. Make sure you apply sunscreen correctly for maximum effectiveness.
Check the Altitude
UV rays are more intense at higher altitudes. Additionally, the atmosphere is thinner during winter, so you’re at an increased risk of sunburn. If you’re going skiing, apply sunscreen and wear layers to shield your skin from exposure.
Watch the UV Index
The UV Index can help you plan your day so that you’re not overexposed to UV rays. The UV Index tool will tell you what the risk of sun exposure is for your area. Generally, restricting your sun exposure to a 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. window is encouraged, as well as wearing sunscreen anytime you’re outdoors.
Learn More with GentleCure
Are you interested in learning more about preventing skin cancer or treatments for common skin cancers? Reach out to our skin cancer information specialists by phone or online at your convenience, and they’ll answer whatever questions you may have.