Dangers of Winter Sun can find you, even in the winter on cloudy days. This is why it remains important to protect your skin in winter. Winter sun dangers include cancer and aging. You can sunburn in the winter, but skin cancer and aging remain the main dangers.
The sun remains dangerous in the winter because the UV rays are present all year long. There has been proof of the sun’s rays filtering through a dark cloud overcast to reach our skin. So unless you are wearing sun blocking clothing and/or sunscreen, you can get sun damage on your skin.
“If you’re outside, any uncovered areas of your body are exposed to UV rays,” says Susan Chon, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Dermatology at MD Anderson.
Winter Sun can cause skin cancer and cause your skin to age! Who wants that? You will need to protect your skin in the winter with sun blocking clothing and sunscreen to stay safe.
How will you protect your skin?
Low Winter Sun Is An Unseen Danger
The sun’s angle and the track it travels on in the winter may cause an unseen danger when people are not protected from the harmful UV rays. Skin cancer can happen when there is sun exposure you are unaware of going on.
Eye damage can also happen, and there can be blinding glares that allow you to be caught with momentary blindness. As long as the blinding is temporary, and you are not driving, you may think there was no damage done. Unfortunately, for some, the occasions of momentary blindness lead to eye damage.
Those episodes of a blinding flashing light are kind of like “sucker punches.” You get caught unawares and have no way of knowing if your eyes can handle another round without damage. One day, the shoe dropped for me.
I didn’t have eye cancer, but I definitely had vision issues. Don’t get caught, wear your sunglasses to prevent the momentary blinding flashes, winter as well as summer.
Winter Sun And Your Cancer Risk
Skin cancer is your main unseen danger.
A Leading factor in the development of skin cancers is the sun’s UV radiation. Your face, head, and neck usually are exposed in the winter months. This is where most skin cancers occur.
UV rays are ever-present. Even though you may not be able to see them, up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can penetrate clouds. They can see you!
These same UV rays can also penetrate unprotected glass. This makes it possible to damage your skin and eyes even though you are actually indoors.
Being near a window on a winter’s day poses enough danger to make you think about moving your desk, or rearranging your room.
During winter, the sun’s low angle can more readily enter side windows. The winter sun moves to an angle that makes a curve we have to make to get off the state highway to our house, later in the afternoon.
This glare can temporarily blind drivers making it hard to see clearly and possibly lead to an accident. Sunglasses can help, but the danger is there.
Why You Need UV Ray Protection Year Around
I do have to admit that I have wondered about how high the risk is for the sun through a window. We have always operated under the theory that it gets hot, so move away from the window. I do know that furniture will fade in places where the sun shines on it.
It is cumulative like sun damage. The first incident of the sun shining on a couch doesn’t usually fade it. With years of exposure, based on past experience, the color will change, and that place will be weak. The fabric will feel rough there.
So, yes, I can see a similarity. Our skin could take a few years to show damage from sitting in front of a window. So working in front of a window can be dangerous. This is a situation I will need to consider.
Adding window film to your sunnier windows can block 99 percent of the sun’s harmful UV spectrum. So that could be a solution for fading. We love our windows and enjoy the time of year we can leave the drapery open.
In the summer, our 100 plus days make leaving blinds shut is the better choice. We do have double pane windows, but in the coldest wintertime, like the freeze, we had last February, curtains being left open let out some of our warm air.
UV Rays Reflected Off Of Snow
As you get out of the house, or office and get out in the winter sun, the snow can increase your sun’s dangers. The UV rays that reflect off the snow can be hard to avoid. While the heat factor is not usually there with reflected rays, the early aging rays, the UVA rays are reflected easily.
Will you be your own enemy as you get older? Will you neglect to protect your skin with some of the tools we have to work with? You will not remain unaffected forever.
Get in the habit of taking care of your skin. Often men are reluctant to “care for their skin.” Sunscreen can help protect you from the sun. If you get in the habit of applying a sunscreen moisturizer every morning, you are helping your skin stay healthy.
Women, you should also be aware and use sunscreen with a moisturizer. Read the label, that will tell you if there are moisturizing ingredients there. You will save so much money with this one habit as you get older.
Taking care of your skin after it has issues is more expensive than preventing the early aging to start with. Don’t until you are 50 and can see those lines and wrinkles. The products to help you at that point will cost more than a good sunscreen to apply daily now.
This is something you can and should do. Regardless of how dark or how light your skin tones are. The UVA rays don’t care what color your skin is. They are there to do what they do.
Sunburn In The Winter
If you lived in Texas last year, you remember the freeze in February that threatened to cause a state-wide blackout. For those who were trying to keep the power on and houses warm protecting their skin was not on their minds.
That feeble-looking winter sun as things began to thaw just didn’t look that dangerous. However, the UV rays were there. In the severity of people freezing to death, caring for your skin loses importance. If you remain in that ‘feeble’ looking sun too you, you can get a sunburn, Be aware of time in the sun.
I agree with all that. However, this year as we are getting into the colder times of the year, we need to change our mindset to be one of protecting our skin.
Personally, I think that is where we get in trouble with neglecting to care for our skin and protect ourselves from too much sun, both winter and summer is because something happens that disrupts our better habits. Be aware that you may need to remember to leave the sunscreen sitting out on the counter.
Too many of us forget that UV ray protection in the sinter is a big concern. We usually think about UV ray protection during the spring and summer. And, that makes sense.
The weather is warmer and the sun gets stronger. This makes the UV rays more powerful, right? We don’t really need to worry about UV rays in the winter, do we?
Why Is UV So Low In Winter? High In Summer?
When UV rays are reflected off of snow, you may forget how dangerous they can be. Don’t let the cold weather fool you. In some cases, the UV rays are actually more powerful during the winter season.
The biggest danger posed by UV rays in the winter? You. It is easy to forget to use sunscreen. Watching out for how long you have been out in the sun is sometimes hard to do. So let’s think about what we have with winter sun rays.
Some studies have found that when the sun reflects off of snow, it can bring harsh UV rays. These harsher UV rays can double the UV exposure a person encounters.
In fact, fresh snow can reflect as much as 80% of UV radiation.
(The amount of visible light the reaches the surface of the Earth in winter is significantly reduced compared to summer because of the amount of atmosphere through which light from the Sun has to travel.)
In some ways, UV rays can be less harmful during winter. As there is more than one type of UV ray. The UVB rays, which cause sunburn in the summers, are less intense in the winter.
So don’t think that because they are a bit weaker, they are safe! Keep in mind that they are still there.
UVA rays are dangerous and once the damage is done, it is irreversible.
Winter Sun And Your Cancer Risk
Dermatologists tell us that UVA rays “penetrate” your skin more deeply. The ability of the UVA ray to go deeper in your skin than the sunburn ray UVB does. With the ability to go deep, the UVA wreaks your skin, allowing early aging. As your skin is having its DNA changed there is also the development of skin cancers including melanoma.
When you see someone who has been exposed to lots of UV rays, you know that the tan color in their skin is from UVB. That is also the ray that will cause sunburn. UVA causes wrinkles and lines and early aging. They both make you more apt to butn.
At this point, there is no way to separate the rays hitting your skin. Too much of sun cancer is the result of skin overexposure. Your personal risks is what makes you able to stay in the sun and not sunburn longer than I can. Or maybe I can stay out longer than you.
You, or me? We both have to protect ourselves from too much sun. I can’t imagine getting out in the sun, taking off my sunglasses and hoodie, and saying “I want to get some of this sun to make me look older!”
However, I have been guilty of saying, “I want to get a little tan.” Either way, I am allowing my skin to age early.
Your risks, if you are fair-skinned and have light hair and eyes are high for a quick reaction to the sun. That reaction will not always be what you were looking for. Use sunscreen, sun blocking clothing, and stay safe.
Reduce your risk for skin cancer.
Always Stay Aware Of Wintertime Sun
Is the winter sun good for my skin? During winter, the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere points away from the sun. This allows the atmosphere to block some of the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Temperatures drop as the sun’s rays are further away. But don’t let these seasonal effects trick you. When you’re outside, you’re still at risk for damage to your skin.
When the temperature drops or you haven’t seen the sun in days, don’t think you can put away the sunscreen. Even in the winter and on cloudy days, it’s important to guard your skin against cancer and aging.
Harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays are present year-round. They can even filter through dark cloud coverage to reach your skin.
Winter Sun Alert
“When you’re outside, any uncovered areas of your body are exposed to UV rays,” says Susan Chon, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Dermatology at MD Anderson. And, the primary cause of skin cancer is too much sun exposure.
Add this danger to the UVA that makes it into our homes. This adds up to a lot of exposure.
More than two million Americans are diagnosed each year with skin cancer. (American Cancer Society) This makes skin cancer the most common type of cancer in the United States.
There is good news. Skin Cancer is also one of the easiest to prevent, including the most serious form, malignant melanoma.
Other more common types of skin cancer, such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, are treatable if found early.
So, it’s important to protect your skin year-round to lower your chances of getting skin cancer.
Sami’s Take On Dangers Of Winter Sun
The main danger of winter sun, in my mind, is the fact that we tend to ignore safety. We think that because there is some less danger, that there is none.
Being negligent and just not doing anything to protect your skin is not safe. You have to protect your skin year round. Being a responsible adult will make you and your family age better. It can save you money when you start showing the wrinkles of early aging. Early aging happens to us all, but to unprotected skin earlier than you now realize.
Being mistaken for an older adult is not always a plesant experience and at that point, much too late to do anything but prevent being mistaken for your own grandmother.
I do think that it is easy to be fooled by the winter sun. We have been for years. Now that we are aware, our habits must change.
Yes, I am a mother. And yes, my adult kids are wishing they had paid attention to warnings. None of us did. While we are not looking old yet, we have more lines and wrinkles than we should.
Don’t let that happen to you.