2016 already seems to be zipping by, doesn’t it? February will be here in just another week. But, for most Canadians, there’s no end of winter in sight just yet. That means that there will be many more weeks of bundling up. And while dressing warmly may seem like the obvious thing to do, there is another winter precaution that doesn’t generally get recognized as being mandatory. And that’s protecting our exposed skin from the winter sun via sunscreen and sunglasses.
Because it’s cold in the winter, many of us forget that the sun’s UV rays are still at work. In the past, our blog has pointed out that these harmful rays can use the bright, white snow as bouncing pads, helping them to ricochet right into our faces. With that said, protecting our skin from the sun during the winter is just as important as protecting it in the summer – even though less of it is exposed.
Here are two important things to remember about the winter sun:
1. The sun can damage your eyes as well as your skin. We often talk about applying sunscreen during the winter to protect skin from sun damage. And as much as this is very worthwhile advice, sunscreen cannot be applied to the eyes! The eyes, however, still require protection. The wearing of sunglasses, therefore, is highly recommended. “When it comes to your eyes, the winter sun can be blinding – literally,” reports David Stevens on SafetyToolBoxTopics.com.
“Overexposure to ultraviolet rays can damage the retina which contains photo-sensitive cells in the back of the eye that allow you to see,” he continues, “Winter sun reflecting off snow is more blinding than summer sun reflecting off water. If bright enough, it can easily cause a temporary, but very painful condition called snow blindness. Snow blindness occurs when the surface of the eye is sunburned. Other types of eye damage have been linked to overexposure such as growths, cancers, and cataracts.”
2. UV rays can cause damage while you’re driving. We also often discuss the act of protecting ourselves from the sun by staying out of its direct light. One would think that protection is offered by the roofs of our cars. It sounds reasonable enough. After all, when driving, we are technically “indoors”. Harmful UV rays, however, can still make their way through our windshields and other windows. Again, applying sunscreen is necessary – even during a winter drive.
On New Zealand’s Women’s Weekly website, Dermatologist Dr, Mark Gray reveals that eye protection from the sun is still required while driving. “Glass reduces the amount of UVB exposure but allows most of the UVA to penetrate,” he says, “This reduces the risk of skin cancer but does not eliminate it. And since UVA exposure is not reduced, you’re still exposed to the ageing effects of the sun, like sun spots and wrinkles.”
It’s also important to remember that some sun damage may have already occurred over the years when you weren’t necessarily taking measures to protect your skin during the winter. If so, there is help available for you, so don’t worry! At the Aurora Medical Laser & Vein Centre, we offer Blue-U PhotoDynamic Therapy which is a special skin therapy that combines topically applied Levulan (ALA) and blue light to treat sun damage.
In addition to sun damage, Blue-U PhotoDynamic Therapy also treats acne, precancerous skin lesions, fine lines and blotchy pigmentation. It also has the unique ability to minimize pores and reduce oil glands which helps to treat stubborn acne, rosacea and the appearance of scarring due to acne. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call the Aurora Medical Laser & Vein Centre at 403-358-5818 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.