Sun poisoning is most commonly thought of as a summertime hazard. When you think of getting sunburned or sun poisoning, you typically think of spending too much time in the sun at the beach or pool. However, summer is not the only time of year when you can get sunburn or develop sun poisoning.
The Harmful Effects of Winter Sun
We all enjoy finding a warm sunny spot on a cold day – especially if you are out on the slopes or participating in some other winter outdoor activity. The sun feels good as it warms us – however, most of us don’t realize that the winter sun can do as much damage as the summer sun.
In the winter, especially at high altitudes (think ski-slopes) the sun delivers high doses of UV rays that are more intense and damaging since the thinner atmosphere does not block as much of the sun’s damaging rays. This can all result in the strong potential for sunburn or even sun poisoning for those spending a day outside – here’s why:
The snow also amps up the sun’s power. Apart from the stronger sunlight directly hitting your skin, the sun also reflects off the snow and bounces 80% of its rays back at you – much like it does from a pool, ocean or lake. The effect is similar to a typical day at the beach and the results can be the same – sunburn or worse – sun poisoning.
So as strange as it may seem, before hitting the slopes or spending the day on a ski-mobile this winter, you may want to consider applying some sunblock before putting on your sunglasses or ski goggles.
The sun is responsible for most of the 1,000,000+ cases of non-melanoma skin cancers diagnosed yearly in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Applying sunscreen regularly decreases the number of sunburns – which reduces your skin cancer risks dramatically, even on the most blustery winter days.
Look for sunscreen products made for winter fun – like sunscreen ‘sticks’ that allow you to apply sunscreen to your cheeks and face in quick swipes, or sunscreen ‘brushes’ that allow you to brush on a sun protective powder without removing your gloves when it’s cold.
More About Sun Poisoning
Sun poisoning most commonly affects fair-skinned people. More women develop sun poisoning than men and you are at greater risk for the condition if other family members are sun sensitive. It is estimated that more than 10% of Americans are sensitive to the sun’s rays and are at risk of becoming ill if exposed.
In the average person, sun poisoning occurs when individuals receive a severe sunburn and become sick from the amount of sun exposure they received – even in the winter. Symptoms take time to evolve, so individuals may not know that they have sun poisoning right away.
To learn about the signs and symptoms of sun poisoning and the lasting effects of sunburn, read our article on Sun Poisoning: What Are The Lasting Effects?
For our readers who live in the Southern Hemisphere, just about to enjoy the warm summer months, please read our articles on how to protect your skin this summer:
- Sunscreen: New Guidelines this Summer (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Frequently Asked Questions About Sunscreen (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Signs of Sun Damage & How to Prevent Sun Damage (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Sun Damaged Skin (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Professional Treatment of Sun Damaged Skin (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Repairing Sun Damaged Skin (healthyskinsolutions.com)