For many of us, winter spells fun times in the mountains. However, whether you are seeking thrills or just quality time outdoors, adequate sun protection is a necessity to fully enjoy it without putting yourself in danger.
Sun and Snow, a Dangerous Cocktail
In the mountains, sunlight can cause bad sunburn if the skin is unprotected, and this for several reasons:
- On the snow, sunlight is reflected up to 85%, as compared to just 15% for sand.
- At high altitude, ultraviolet (UV) radiation is much less filtered by the atmosphere and are thus much more harmful.
- Even in cloudy weather, up to 90% of UV is not filtered!
Finally, cold temperatures numb the skin: you don’t feel yourself getting burned, or the burn getting worse!
Adequately Protecting the Skin, a Necessity
To prevent the negative effects of this cocktail, a high protection sunscreen is recommended. Use an SPF 50 if you have light skin, and renew application every two hours.
Darker skins can use lower SPF, but should still protect themselves! Indeed, it is not because you don’t get sunburned that your skin doesn’t suffer the consequences… If UVB is responsible for sunburn, UVA is responsible for premature skin aging: its damage is not immediately visible, but is there!
Broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA+UVB), like those that use mineral screens, will protect you from these effects.
Don’t Forget your Eyes or your Lips!
The skin is not the only thing to be negatively affected by the mountain sun: the eyes and lips are also exposed. Sunburn on the eyes? It’s possible, and happens often! This problem, also called snow blindness, is superficial burn of the cornea. After a few hours of exposure, it is felt by intense pain and high sensitivity to light. To avoid it, never forget to wear appropriate sunglasses.
The lips are subject to drying out, which will result in chapping. Using protective lip balm will keep them whole!
Watch Out for your Kids!
Children’s skin, like their immune system, is not completely mature. In this way they get sunburned much more easily and the consequences can be dire. Indeed, it has been shown that major sunburn before the age of 18 considerably increases the risk of cancer in adulthood…
An SPF 50 sunscreen, with renewed application every two hours is completely essential.