It may seem counterintuitive, but some of the most at-risk people for overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun are those who enjoy outdoor sports during the winter. We often associate winter days with gray skies and snow, but winter in many places also has days when the sun is out. If you’re planning on taking an outdoor trip to a snowy location, keep the following sun safety tips in mind.
– Watch out in the mountains. Skiers and snowboarders are at particularly high risk for sun damage. This is partly because the snow can reflect as much as 80 percent of the sun’s radiation up at them from the ground. The sun is also much stronger at high elevations. If you’re skiing on mountains 9,000 to 10,000 feet from sea level, the sun may be up to 45 percent more intense than it would be at the beach, so take extra caution.
– Reapply sunscreen frequently. Much like the surf can degrade sunscreen in the summer, the combination of wind and snow can make it less effective in the winter. So be sure to reapply sunscreen to all exposed areas on your body every two hours.
– Consider your latitude. The sun is stronger the closer you get to the equator, and while you may be less likely to encounter snow in the tropics, there are places even there that are high enough in elevation to sport snow and ice all year long.
– Protect your eyes. Make sure you wear sunglasses or goggles that offer UV protection of 99 percent or more. Your eyewear should also cover the skin around your eyes, which is at high risk for cancer and premature aging due to sun exposure.
– Remember unusual places. The ears, underside of the chin, neck, hands, and lips are all frequently missed when people apply sunblock.