How to Protect Yourself from the Winter Sun

December 5, 2018
When weighing the effects of the sun on our skin, it is easy to focus solely on what we can see and feel. Sunburns, for instance, are immediate, painful, and unsightly; the memories of which become engrained in our minds and serve as inspiration for future precautions. During warmer months, the heat and intensity of the sun act as constant reminders of the importance of protection, and at the start of every summer our news stations become inundated with notices to apply sunscreen and schedule our annual skin exams. The strength of the sun is evident during the summer, but many people assume that the sun simply does not have the same effect on our skin during other times of year; mainly, the low light of winter and cloudy days of spring. However, the sun is much more powerful than we often give it credit for and can influence the health and appearance of our skin even through seemingly protective barriers. To truly protect our skin from damaging UV radiation, we must take the same precautions we follow in the summertime and apply it to our everyday lives.

The Power of the Sun

In 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine published a photo of a man suffering from unilateral dermatoheliosis (or photodamaged skin), the effects of which are much more noticeable on the left hemisphere of his face than the right. The man, who had driven a delivery truck for the better part of three decades, had experienced prolonged sun exposure through his driver’s side window, prematurely and drastically aging his skin. Shortly after publication, the photo went viral, bringing increased attention to the power the sun has on our skin even when we assume we are protected. When our skin is exposed to the sun, we experience radiation in two wavelengths, UVA and UVB. UVB radiation – which is mostly deflected by barriers such as clothing, cloud cover, and window glass – is responsible for causing the burning and redness we so often associated with sun damage. UVA radiation, however, penetrates much deeper within in the skin and is not easily stopped by the same barriers that protect us from UVB rays. This results in damage down deep within the fibers and tissues of our skin, causing premature aging, wrinkling, sun spots, genetic mutations, and even immune system suppression.

The Importance of Sunscreen

Applying sunscreen everyday greatly reduces the likelihood of sun damage on our skin. However, for this to work, we must remember that the sun is ever-present, delivering its UV radiation even when we feel most protected. To find out which sunscreen works best for your skin type and daily routine, contact Dermatology Consultants today to schedule your skin care consultation.

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