Evil Queen Can’t Banish Skin Cancer Risks in Winter
Actress Charlize Theron’s silky complexion is displayed to diabolical perfection in “Snow White and the Huntsman” (2012). But even the evil Queen is powerless to banish the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation of winter. UV rays not only damage the skin with wrinkles, sagging and brown spots, but just as frost signals winter, long exposure to unchecked UV rays may signal a worse diagnosis: skin cancer.
• On overcast days, up to 80 percent of UV rays may still penetrate clouds.
• Ice and snow reflect up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays.
• UV exposure increases by up to 10 percent for every 1,000 feet above sea level.
How can you protect yourself?
Before you set out to ski or snow tube, pamper your skin with a lotion that offers adequate sunscreen protection.
We recommend using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 during the winter months. Protect lips with a lip balm that has an SPF of 15 or higher.
Apply it right before you go out, and cover all exposed areas. Add a hat to protect your scalp, and wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Even if you’re driving in a vehicle or sitting near a window for a prolonged period of time, it’s important to know that windows let in more than 60 percent of these harmful rays.
Reapply every two hours, even if the sunscreen is water resistant. Sweat and wind can both cause your last application to wear away.
Finally, be wary of using tanning beds as a winter supplement for your summer tan. Tanning bed users are 74 percent more likely to develop skin cancer than people who never use tanning beds.
When diagnosed early, most forms of skin cancer can be effectively treated. Dr. Mountcastle conducts biopsies to identify and eliminate skin cancer before it spreads, and, when necessary, performs melanoma excision and other types of skin cancer surgery to remove skin cancer. He does so using advanced skin closure and reconstructive plastic surgery techniques which greatly minimize the appearance of the scar. In addition, Dr. Mountcastle also treats benign lipomas, cysts, and moles that patients may choose to have removed for medical or cosmetic reasons. These procedures are often covered by most health insurance plans.
If you notice any changes to your skin and have concerns, please give us a call at 703-858-3208 to schedule a consultation today at our Reston (Monday), Ashburn (Tuesday-Friday) or Leesburg (Friday), Virginia offices with Dr. Timothy Mountcastle. Dr. Mountcastle is Chief of Plastic Surgery at INOVA Loudoun Hospital, Medical Director at Radiance Medspa – Fairfax and owner of Mountcastle Plastic Surgery and Vein Institute.