Why Wintertime Sun Protection Matters

When it comes to protecting your skin from the sun, it’s a task that you likely associate with the hot summer months.

But you can suffer overexposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun at any time of year, making it a threat even in the cold of winter. This is why it’s vital to protect your skin from UV rays all year long.

With three New York City locations, Dr. Javier Zelaya and our team at Skinworks Dermatology have decades of experience providing quality treatment for people with sunburn or other types of sun damage. Here’s why you need to be vigilant even now.

How the sun damages your skin

Going to the beach or playing in the park on a hot summer day is a blast, and the warm weather is a big part of why we enjoy it so much. We wear less to be comfortable outside and expose more of our skin to solar heat. 

And while we need the sun for many things, including healthy skin, too much exposure to its UV rays can lead to conditions that range from mild to severe. 

Dry skin, sunburn, sun spots, actinic keratosis (bumps or small scaly patches of different colors on your skin), melanoma, and other skin cancers are problems millions of people deal with due to sun-damaged skin.

Skin cancer by itself is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and UV overexposure is the most common cause. 

The sun and your skin in winter

We do, however, wake up to the morning sun all year. And despite wearing more clothes in the winter, there are still risks of overexposure. Any uncovered skin is at risk, even with less sunlight and less intense UV rays.

Even dark clouds don’t prevent the sun from affecting your skin; in some cases, solar rays can bounce off clouds and intensify the rays that come down. This is known as cloud enhancement of UV radiation

And snow reflects 80% of the sun’s rays, which can result in as much damage to exposed skin as a day in the summer heat.

Methods of prevention

To prevent damage to your skin from the sun in wintertime, it’s important to target the areas most commonly exposed — your face and hands. It’s recommended you wear sunscreen with a strength of at least SPF 30, and apply it to uncovered areas a half-hour before going outdoors.

Sunscreen with zinc oxide also helps for sensitive skin. 

In addition to the usual winter wardrobe of jackets, hats, and gloves, wearing glasses or goggles with 100% UV protection can also help. 

Healthy skin should be a priority year-round, so protect yourself in winter too. And if you’re dealing with sun-damaged skin, we can help. Call one of our three convenient locations in Maspeth, Chelsea, or Park Slope, or book your appointment online.

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