Skin Safety Tips for Winter
Just because it’s getting close to winter, don’t pack away your sunblock with your swimsuit. In fact, winter’s sun is just as dangerous as summer rays, according to Adam J. Scheiner, MD.
“The snow reflects the glare of the sun – and the damaging UV rays,” says Scheiner. “People who like skiing and snowboarding in the mountains are getting 4 to 5 percent more UV damage for every 1,000 feet they ascend above sea level.”
And cold-weather sports aren’t the only dangerous activities: There are all those holiday cruises and escapes to warm-weather climates where beaches are packed year-round.
“It’s not OK to lie baking in the sun for hours, even if it’s just one week out of the winter,” Scheiner says.
Failure to safeguard your skin can have serious consequences. Although many people don’t take skin cancer as seriously as other cancers, it can be fatal. “Earlier this year, the surgeon general predicted 9,000 people will die from melanoma this year. That’s preventable,” Scheiner says.
“If skin cancer doesn’t scare you, think with your vanity. Sun exposure is the No. 1 cause of wrinkles, discoloration, age spots and festoons, among other disfiguring problems.”
Other areas of exposure include simply driving a car. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found more skin cancers on the left side of patients’ faces – the side exposed while driving – then the right. Scheiner says he’s seen truckers and others who spend years on the road with severe wrinkling on the left side of the face.
Here, Scheiner’s tips for looking after your skin:
“Always wear sunscreen, which protects against UVA and UVB rays. I recommend a Broad Spectrum Sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30, preferably higher,” Scheiner says. “You can also protect yourself from UVA rays, which cause deeper damage, by applying UV-protective film to your car windows. Apply sunscreen to all areas of the skin that can be directly exposed to the sun. The best scenario is preventing sun damage in the first place.”
Good nutrition and topical products can help minimize signs of damage, such as wrinkles and age spots, Scheiner says. He suggests eating foods rich in antioxidants such as carrots and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables; spinach and other green leafy vegetables; tomatoes; blueberries; peas and beans; fatty fish, and nuts. An American Society for Clinical Nutrition study found that women ages 40 to 75 who consumed more vitamin C, an antioxidant, had fewer wrinkles.
Scheiner also says exfoliate creams can remove dead skin cells, reducing wrinkles and age spots caused by sun exposure. Prescription creams including Avita, Avage, Renova and Retin-A have been shown to reduce wrinkles and age spots caused by sun exposure
Lasers can resurface facial skin by stripping away the outermost layers. Some “non-ablative” lasers also stimulate collagen formation, which helps smooth wrinkles. Some techniques also have health as well as beauty benefits. Scheiner uses “RESET® Laser Skin Resurfacing, which reverses the damage and removes many pre-cancers and even active skin cancers.”
Adam J. Scheiner, M.D., based in Tampa, is an eyelid and facial cosmetic surgeon who’s been featured on The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors. To learn more about his work, visit his website, www.adamscheiner.com, or buy his book, The True Definition of Beauty.