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2018-01-10 / Features

Skin Cancer Foundation Shares Sun Safety Tips for Winter Sports

Winter sports enthusiasts spend ample time outdoors, often hitting the slopes for skiing and snowboarding. Despite cold temperatures, clouds and dreary weather, winter sports lovers are still at risk for sun damage and skin cancer. In fact, about 86 percent of melanomas and 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. In addition, the sun’s UV rays are also responsible for 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging, including wrinkles, leathery skin and brown spots.

Snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. As a result, the same rays can reach the skin twice. Additionally, up to 80 percent of UV rays burn right through the clouds. Skiers and snowboarders are at an even greater risk, as these sports take place at a higher altitude, where the thinner atmosphere absorbs less UV radiation. Sun exposure increases four to five percent with every 1,000 feet above sea level.

“Frostbite and windburn are common concerns during the winter, and people often don’t realize that the sun’s UV rays can be just as damaging on the slopes as they are on the beach,” observed Perry Robins, MD, president of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “That’s why it’s so important to practice proper sun protection year-round, even in cold or cloudy weather.”

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the following tips to stay sunsafe during outdoor winter sports:

Use a broad spectrum (UBA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher whenever spending extended time outdoors. Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas, and reapply every two hours or after excessive sweating .— Don’t forget the often-missed spots: This includes the ears, around the eyes, the neck, the underside of the chin and hands.

Use a moisturizing sunscreen with ingredients like lanolin or glycerin. Winter conditions can be particularly harsh on the skin.

Protect the lips by wearing a lip balm with an SPF 30 or higher.

Cover up with clothing: Look for sunglasses or goggles that offer 99 percent or greater UV protection and have wraparound or large frames, which will protect eyes, eyelids and the sensitive skin around the eyes – all common sites for skin cancer. In addition, consider a ski mask for even more protection.

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