October 29, 2013 Sally Bjornsen
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10 SUN CANCER PREVENTION TIPS – WINTER EDITION

Sun cancer prevention is often forgotten during the winter months.  It is easy to be lackadaisical with your sunscreen in the winter, especially when cruising down the slopes on your skis or snowboard.  When it’s cold and the wind is blowing, it’s hard to think that your skin at even higher risk for skin cancer as when you are playing with your kids on the beach in July.

But skin cancer is still out and about for winter sports enthusiasts and sun cancer prevention is just as important in the winter.  In fact, skiers and snowboarders are at increased risk for overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. The mix of higher altitude and the snow’s reflection of UV rays can burn your skin quicker than an hour on the beach.  And since greater than 90 percent of all skin cancers are associated with sun exposure, all your winter fun can lead skin cancer.

Sun cancer prevention in the winter means understanding that sunscreen is less effective when met with strong wind and the reflection of the sun off snow.  To help protect yourself, here are 10 steps to protect again skin cancer from our friends at skincancer.org

  1. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher whenever you spend extended time outdoors. Apply 30 minutes before hitting the slopes. Be aware that the sun’s reflection off the snow is strong even on cloudy days. (Up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can penetrate clouds.)
  2. You will need a minimum of a teaspoon of sunscreen for your face.
  3. Don’t forget about the spots you often miss:  your lips, ears, around the eyes, front and back of your neck, your hands and your scalp
  4. Consider wearing a helmet to protect your scalp and ears from sun cancer (and brain injury)
  5. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, and immediately after heavy sweating.
  6. Always wear a lip balm with an SPF 15 or higher – lips are very sensitive.
  7. Pack it with you – have travel size sun screen with you on the slopes so you can reapply when needed.
  8. Make sure your goggles and/or sunglasses have 99 percent or greater UV protection.  This will protect your eyes, eyelids and the area around the eyes which is where many skin cancers are found.
  9. Hit the slopes early when the sun’s rays are less intense
  10. If you are an all-day skier, be sure to take a break indoors to thoroughly reapply sunscreen

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