Dangers of the winter sun
The winter sun has two types of radiation that are dangerous – ultraviolet-A and ultraviolet-B. You also must know that ultraviolet rays are even more damaging in regions where there is snow, as the UV rays are reflected off them. In alpine regions and those that are higher than 1,000 feet above sea level, the amount of ultraviolet rays that reach the surface of the earth increases by 5%. This is why the winter sun can be more damaging than the summer sun.
UVA and UVB
UVA rays are able to penetrate our skin and cause wrinkles. This type is less dangerous than UVB, but it is more prevalent, as it accounts for 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the surface of the Earth. UVA penetrates the skin deeper and can be responsible for developing skin cancer or contributing to it. When tanning, outdoors or indoors, UVA penetrates the skin and damages the DNA.
UVB rays are those that cause reddening of the skin and sunburns, as they damage the superficial layers of the skin. Like UVA, UVB also contributes in developing cancer of the skin. Though present all year, UVB rays are most damaging between 10 am and 4 pm. It causes more damage when reflected on surfaces such as ice and snow.
Damages caused by the winter sun
Sunburn is the most obvious damage caused by the winter sun. Since the ultraviolet rays are reflected on snow or ice, sunburn may occur on unusual places including the ears and under the chin. As said earlier, the ultraviolet radiation is capable of damaging our DNA, and in some cases, the damages that are done cannot be repaired by our system. This causes advanced skin aging that can lead to cancer.
The winter sun can also affect the eyes. Since your eyes are subjected to twice as much ultraviolet light during winter because of the reflective surfaces, the surface of the eyes can be damaged. In addition, the cornea and the lens of your eyes are in danger as well.
Protection from the winter sun
There are several things you can do to protect yourself from the winter sun. Apply sunscreen that has at least 30 SPF and reapply every few hours, especially when you are doing activities outdoors. You can also wear protective clothing such as a wide-brimmed hat to cover more areas of your face. In addition, invest in sun protection clothing that will prevent your skin from being penetrated by harmful rays. If you are into winter sports, make sure that you wear protective sunglasses that can block off ultraviolet rays.