Has your sunscreen sat unused on your bathroom counter for the last month? It’s winter, you think. Not much need for it now, right?
Wrong. Even in the winter months, it is still important to use sunscreen daily and here’s why.
1. Your perceived intensity of the sun does not indicate your sun exposure.
Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey pointed out that there are two kinds of ultraviolet rays emitted from the sun: UVA and UVB. UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburn and their intensity varies from summer to winter. However, UVA rays have the same intensity during summer or winter.
UVA rays are the ones that penetrate deeper in your skin and can cause skin aging and skin cancer to occur. UVA damage is not reversible. Wearing sunscreen can protect you from exposure to these rays.
2. Just because it is cloudy outside, that doesn’t mean you are not getting exposed to UV rays.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, up to 80 percent of the sun's UV rays can pass through clouds, reported CNN. This is how people end up getting sunburn on cloudy days when they have been outside without sunscreen.
And if you go skiing during winter, snow can reflect up to 80 percent of the UV rays, which increases your exposure. UV radiation is also higher at higher elevations.
3. Even though you think you are protected from winter sun in your car, the sun’s UV rays still penetrate glass.
Glass is able to filter out UVB rays but not UVA rays. UVA rays can still get through and penetrate your skin. Some people find the side of their face that is exposed to the sun while driving gets more tan or freckles than the non-driver’s side if they have not been wearing sunscreen.
4. You really do get enough vitamin D in winter, even if you wear sunscreen.
It only takes small amounts of sun exposure to get enough daily vitamin D. Sunscreen does not block 100 percent of the sun’s rays.
Both the American Dermatology Association and the Skin Cancer Foundation stated that people get enough exposure from the sun, even while wearing sunscreen, and from eating vitamin D rich foods to meet their daily vitamin D needs.
If you have a concern about your vitamin D levels, you can ask your doctor to test your vitamin D levels and then take supplements if your levels are low. There is no way for you to accurately determine how to raise your vitamin D level using the sun.
5. Even if your sunscreen is old, it is still good for up to three years.
Don’t think that just because your sunscreen was bought in the beginning of the summer past or even the summer before that it is not effective to use this winter.
Check the bottom of the bottle for an expiration date and dispose of any sunscreen that is older or has changed color or consistency, stated Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson from the Mayo clinic.
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF greater than 30 applied 20 minutes before going outside.
6. Don’t believe that if you are over 18 you have already received the majority of the sun exposure that may damage your skin.
In previous studies, it was thought that the bulk of our exposure was achieved by age 18, but now scientists think we have only gotten 25 percent of our lifetime exposure by that age, reported CNN. That means the majority of our exposure will still occur throughout adulthood.
Sun damage is cumulative. Every day that you don’t protect your skin is another day that increased your risk of developing skin cancer. So keep wearing that sunscreen this winter.
Do You Need Sunscreen in the Winter? “Find it Again Friday”. Dr. Cynthia Bailey Skin Blog.
Six common sun myths, exposed. CNN.com.
Common Myths About Sun Protection. Merck.com.
Is sunscreen from last year still good? When does sunscreen expire? Mayoclinic.com.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles
Edited by Jody Smith