Sunscreen is for winter too!

You can still get a sunburn in the winter, even though it's not hot outside. It is important to protect your skin from the sun all year round to reduce your risk of skin cancer and premature aging. This is especially true if you are spending time outdoors, since sunlight and 80% of UV rays can be reflected off of snow and ice. The sunlight will also be more intense at higher altitudes.

Here are some tips on winter sun protection:

  • Use sunscreen. Sunscreens are not just for summer. Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin 15 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours and after sweating or getting the skin wet. Choose a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher and protects against both UVA and UVB light. Many moisturizers also contain sunscreens. Try to find a product that is recognized by the Canadian Dermatology Association (look for their logo on the package). If sunscreen gets in your eye, flush it with plenty of water for 10-15 minutes. Your lips can get sunburned too, so be sure to use a lip balm with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Cover up. Protect your eyes from sun damage with a pair of close-fitting sunglasses that provide UVA and UVB protection.
  • Reduce your risk. If you are using a medication that contains a retinoid (such as acitretin, isotretinoin or tretinoin), or other medications that make the skin more sensitive to the sun (such as tetracycline, ibuprofen or hydrochlorothiazide), use extra caution when going out in the sun.
  • Watch out for windows. UVA rays can pass through glass all year long. These are the rays that cause skin aging, skin cancer and most drug-related reactions to the sun. Fortunately UVB rays, which lead to sunburns, cannot pass through glass.

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