When you hear the term “skin cancer,” you probably picture the condition as a result of being overexposed to the hot summer sun. While that’s certainly the case for many individuals, the cold winter months can be just as dangerous for our skin. Obviously if you’re out in the cold we’ll have more layers on which act as natural protection from harmful UV rays, but the winter sun can still lead to skin cancer if we’re not careful. Below, we share some ways you can prevent against skin cancer this winter.
Winter Skin Cancer Prevention
Although we get less direct sunlight during the winter months, there’s still plenty to keep in mind when it comes to skin cancer prevention. One of the biggest reasons why we can still suffer sunburns during the winter is because the sun can hit us from multiple directions. If can hit us as it comes from the sun, and it can be reflected off the glistening snow or ice. It’s the same reason why you need to be especially careful of sunburn when you’re on the water, because the potentially harmful rays are reflecting and hitting you from the water’s surface.
Another potential issue with winter sun exposure is that many people don’t realize they are being exposed for long periods. If you’re in a bathing suit in the summer, it’s easy to feel the effects of the sun after a while, but if you’re bundled up and only your face and head are exposed, you may not realize the extent of your UV ray exposure. If you’re going to be outside for long periods in the winter, even if you’re going to be pretty bundled up, it’s important to keep these tips in mind.
- Sunscreen – No, you don’t need to apply sunscreen every time you step outside in the winter, but if you work outside or you’re going to be outside for hours and it’s a clear day, consider throwing some sunscreen on your face and anywhere else that will be exposed to prolonged sunlight.
- Skiing and Snowboard Protection – If you are hitting the slopes, make sure you are protecting your head and face from sun exposure. Invest in goggles or sunglasses with built-in UV protection so that the snow reflecting off the ground isn’t hitting your face with UV rays. Sunscreen is also a great idea if you’re going to be on the mountain all day.
- Protect Your Lips – Skin cancer of the lips accounts for about one percent of all cancers, which may not seem like a lot, but that’s still thousands of new cases each year. Your lips may get beat up from the wind or the dry weather during the winter, but protect them from extended UV exposure by investing in lip balm or chapstick with UV protection.
- Don’t Get A Base Burn – Thinking of hitting up a tanning bed before jetting off on a winter getaway? It’s probably best if you avoid tanning beds, because studies have found a nearly 60 percent increase in the risk of melanoma development with exposure to UV rays from indoor tanning. You’ll come back with a tan even if you’re proactive about sunscreen, so skip the base burn before you head off on vacation to help protect your skin.
- Wear A Hat – Finally, protect your head, face and neck from the sun the old fashioned way – with a hat! Wide-brimmed hats or other head coverings can help keep the sun’s harmful rays off your skin.
If you’ve noticed a mole or a growth that looks different than before, don’t wait to have it examined. Contact Dr. Koeplin’s office today to have the mole examined and a treatment plan made if necessary. Give us a call today at (651) 224-1347.