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Do you need sunscreen in winter?


Although you may bundle up and tend not to spend as much time outdoors during the cold Pennsylvania winter months, your hands, face, ears, and neck are still exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays on a daily basis.

UVA rays are not filtered by glass or clouds and are consistent throughout the year. They also penetrate deeper, causing those pesky brown spots and accelerate the aging process.

The risk of sunburn is actually higher than you realize, during winter because ultraviolet light from the sun is intensified when it reflects off snow, making exposed skin extremely vulnerable to sun damage.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV light, so the rays hit you twice, further increasing your risk of sun cancer and premature aging.

Moreover, harmful UV rays are present year-round, and can even filter through dark cloud coverage to reach your skin. As reported by MD Anderson, several studies indicate an effect called cloud enhancement of UV radiation. This phenomenon happens when the sun’s beam reflects off the sides of clouds causing radiation to be more focused and dangerous.

By following a few simple steps, you can help ensure healthy skin, even during the harshest winter months.

– Wear sunscreen that’s at least SPF 30, broad spectrum to block both UVA and UVB rays.

– Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days.

– Apply sunscreen liberally to dry skin 30 minutes before going outdoors. (Keep a light spf next to your toothbrush, easy to remember and to use).

– Reapply sunscreen after sweating or showering.

Although you are unlikely to experience a severe sunburn while skiing in the Poconos or shoveling snow in your driveway this winter, you still need to remember these steps in order to avoid the skin harming side effects of the sun. It’s the best anti-aging product there is and consistent use will help even out skin tone and keep your skin healthy and vibrant.

Don’t forget to monitor your skin for changes and schedule your full body skin exam with a board certified dermatologist yearly.


Dr. Ivy DeRosa, a board certified dermatologist at Pennsylvania Dermatology Partners in Yardley, completed her specialty dermatology residency training at Michigan State University. She began her educational career by attending Hofstra University.

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