easy to associate stringent skin protection with the spring and summer months,
and also winter holidays in the sun. With temperatures plummeting, winter in
the U.K. firmly here, fewer hours of daylight and overcast days, it is still
vital to employ vigilant sun protection, regardless of the weather or time of
Even on the coldest of days the UV rays that cause skin ageing and skin cancer are reaching your skin. In the right conditions you can sustain skin damage just as easily as in the summer sun. Additionally, skin cancer detection rates are lower during the winter months, as people pile on the layers for colder weather, and neglect their essential skin health checks.
rays, which are the main cause of sunburn, are the strongest in summer,
however, UVB rays can burn your skin all year round. This is more prevalent at
higher altitudes and on reflective surfaces such as snow and ice. Snow reflects
up to 80 per cent of the sun’s UV light, which means that the harmful rays hit
you twice, increasing the risks of skin cancer and premature ageing.
rays are constant all year round, and can penetrate through clouds and fog.
They can also penetrate glass resulting in possible skin damage while staying
indoors on a bright winter day. Some studies have noted that UVA has an 80 per
cent risk of causing premature ageing. UVA causes age spots, and destroy
collagen which leads to skin sagging.
UVB rays, which cause sunburn, UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, causing
invisible damage. The feeling of being burned by the sun is not present with
UVA, and the side effects are slow acting, resulting in being unaware of the
damage that is being done.
makes up 95 per cent of the sun’s rays, making it all the more vital to protect
against it in winter. It can, and will, create mutations in the DNA that can
lead to aggressive basal and squamous cell carcinoma skin cancers.
first line of defence in winter is clothing, not only as protection from the
cold. Do not forget to adequately protect the face, head, and neck all year
round, as this is where most skin cancers occur. UV-blocking glasses and a
wide-brimmed hat are advised before heading out in to the sun. Sunglasses or
ski goggles protect your eyes from snow glare, and a hat will protect your
scalp, while keeping your head warm.
a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect against both UVA and UVB rays, with a
bare minimum of SPF-30 or higher repeatedly to all exposed skin throughout the
day, ensuring that often missed spots, such as tops of ears, the hairline, and
around the eyes. A moisturising sunscreen with ingredients such as lanolin or
glycerin will also help combat dry winter skin.
matter your location, also choosing a waterproof sunscreen is advisable, for
the rain in England, snow while skiing, or the sea on sunny holidays. A lip
balm with an SPF-30 will protect your lips, especially the lower lip, which is
vulnerable to the sun’s rays. Avoid the sun when it is at its strongest,
typically between 11am and 3pm.
visit tanning booths to work on a ‘base tan’ before heading off to sunny winter
holidays, as this exposure does not protect you from the harmful UVB rays, and
it will actually increase the risk of skin cancers and premature ageing. There
is a 20 per cent increase in melanoma with exposure to UV radiation from indoor
tanning. Remember, there is no such thing as healthy tanning.
creams and medications, for example retinol products and chemical peels can
make the skin more photosensitive. Tetracycline-based antibiotics, including
those used for acne treatment can increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.
paler skin is a factor in sun sensitivity, even those with darker skin can get
damage from harmful rays. They might not suffer the effects as quickly due to
having natural protection, but that certainly does not mean they cannot get
sooner a skin cancer is detected, identified and treated, the better the chance
of avoiding surgery or, in the case of melanoma or other skin cancers,
potential disfigurement or even death. It is important to know your skin,
develop a regular routine of checking your skin for any changes to existing
moles or freckles.
sure you check your entire body as skin cancers can occur on parts of the body
not exposed to the sun, such as the soles of the feet, between fingers and toes
and under nails. Undress completely and make sure you have good light. Use a
mirror to check hard to see areas such as the back and scalp.
important to consult a doctor or dermatologist immediately if any abnormal
changes are discovered, and never ignore any of the warning signs such as the
change in colour or shape of existing spots, raised, firm to the touch,
bleeding or crusty moles. If left untreated, they can spread to other areas of
not suggested that the darker winter months be spent in hibernation away from
daylight entirely. The body requires vitamin D, of which sunlight is an
excellent source. It is essential for a healthy body, teeth, and bones, and
helps fight depression.
safe, and protected from harmful sunlight is vital all year round, whatever the
weather, and whatever the season, and not only yourself, but your family, and
especially children. Keep covered, use high SPF factor sunscreen, and a little
forward thinking will make sure you remain healthy and happy.