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Shield Your Skin From Winter Sun

Slather on sunscreen before you hit the slopes

SATURDAY, Jan. 8, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- When you head outdoors this winter with your skis, skates or snowshoes, don't forget the sunscreen.

"Winter sports enthusiasts can face just as much risk of sunburn as summer sunbathers when exposed skin isn't protected," Noreen Nicol, chief clinical officer at National Jewish Medical and Research Center, said in a prepared statement.

Snow actually increases the impact of the sun's rays by reflecting the ultraviolet radiation (UVR) that causes sunburn. Skiers and snowboarders are especially at risk for sunburn because they're at higher elevations where the thinner atmosphere screens out far less UVR.

Nicol offers the following winter sun safety tips:

  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and put it on all exposed areas. Apply your sunscreen half an hour before you go outside. Put on generous amounts and remember to re-apply it often. Don't use old or expired sunscreen.
  • Use lip balms and moisturizers that contain sunscreen.
  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses or ski goggles that provide UV protection.
  • A wide-brim hat will protect your face and the back of your neck.
  • The most significant sun exposure occurs between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Either put on extra sunscreen if you're out during that part of the day or take a lunch break and get out of the sun.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about sunlight and UV radiation.

SOURCE: National Jewish Medical and Research Center, news release, January 2005
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