Winter Skin Care: How Important is Sunscreen for Healthy Skin?

DermSurgery Associates

Learn why a good sunblock should be part of your winter healthy skin care regiment

Woman applying sunscreen.One of the most dangerous myths in cancer-prevention is that skin damage from the sun only happens when it’s hot and sunny outside. The truth is, the ultraviolet rays produced by the sun can harm your skin – which can lead to skin cancer – all year long.

Why is there a risk for skin cancer with this type of light? It’s because UV rays contribute to skin damage, which eventually can lead to cancer. Children under 18 and the elderly are most susceptible, but all people should include a good sunblock in their winter skin care practices.

Elevation increases risk to healthy skin

In the Houston area, we live pretty close to sea level. Although ultraviolet light in the winter can affect us and should be protected against, winter sport enthusiasts who take vacations to higher altitudes must be especially cautious.

Exposure to UV radiation increases with altitude – four to five percent with every thousand feet above sea level, some experts estimate. That means if you’re out skiing at 7,000 feet, you could be getting 35 percent more UV exposure than somebody who’s taking a jog at sea level. But that’s not all.

Snow is an excellent reflector of UV light. If you’re engaged in winter sports in the snow, that white powdery stuff can reflect as much as 80 percent of the sun’s radiation. So now you’ve got the UV light directly from the sun, plus a considerable amount additionally from snow reflection.

Winter skin care has to include sunscreen

There are no two ways about it: sunscreen is very important during the winter months. Consider it your year-round protectant against the damaging effects of the sun. Here are some tips for buying and using sunscreen in the winter.

  • If you expect to spend any extended time under the sun, buy a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a 30 or higher sun protection factor (SPF). It’s best to apply the screen about a half hour before extended sun exposure.
  • Make sure to apply sunscreen to every exposed part of your body – even well-tanned parts. Remember – it’s not sunburn your trying to prevent (though there’s nothing wrong with doing that) but rather skin damage from UV rays, which can happen on any part of your body, tanned or not.
  • Some sunscreens are made with glycerin, lanolin and other moisturizers. Use these types if dry winter skin is a problem.
  • Don’t go too long without reapplying. Every two hours is ideal, and more often if you’re sweating heavily.
  • Protect your lips, too, with a lip balm that has an SPF of at least 15.

DermSurgery Associates of Houston wants you to have wonderful skin, and protecting it from harmful UV radiation during the winter is one great way to accomplish that.

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DermSurgery Associates is a Greater Houston area dermatology practice offering cosmetic, surgical and non-invasive dermatology treatments and procedures with industry-leading physicians trained and experienced with the most current dermatology technologies and procedures. For more information, contact

DermSurgery Associates
7515 Main, Suite 240
Houston, TX 77030

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