It’s easy to think it’s time to pack away the sunscreen somewhere around Halloween. Sunny days are still welcome, but there’s no sensation of dangerous heat hitting your skin in the middle of the day. You’re also dressed for the weather, with much less exposed skin. Beautiful fall days are often overcast too, but with no hint of rain. It’s easy to feel this is a safe time to be outside.
But it’s important to note that the sun’s ultraviolet spectrum provides a double shot of potentially dangerous radiation. Ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) rays can each damage your skin, but only one of these varies in strength from season to season.
Sun damage is cumulative, so adding to your exposure happens year round, day in and day out. Your exposure today may not be that harmful, but it adds to a lifetime of effects. Dr. Clement Banda of MD Vein & Skin Specialists is an experienced clinical dermatologist, so he regularly sees the effects of sun damage on his patients’ skin. Dr. Banda and our team would like to remind you that sun protection year-round is an important part of a healthy skincare routine.
The differences between UVA and UVB rays
While both are from the ultraviolet side of the light spectrum, UVA and UVB affect your skin in different ways. Each can cause damage to the DNA within skin cells, creating the mutations that lead to premature aging and skin cancer.
When the winter months hit, it’s UVA that’s the primary reason to continue using sunscreen. You won’t notice as much skin redness or burning as in the summer though, since that’s a role of UVB. You still have some risk of UVB exposure in the winter, particularly at high altitudes. However, when it’s cloudy or you’re inside, you’re safe from UVB exposure. That doesn’t mean skip the sunscreen though, as UVA light penetrates both and bounces around virtually everywhere, so every layer of protection helps.
To break it down to basics, UVA has the strongest effect on aging your skin, while UVB is more responsible for sunburn.
SPF and UVA
Sun protection factors (SPF) primarily measure how much UVB exposure a particular product blocks. When you’re choosing a sunscreen to guard against UVA exposure, look for the words “broad spectrum” on the label. Its protection goes beyond basic UVB limits.
Because of lower UVB levels and increased protection provided by clothing, you can likely get away with a lower SPF factor than in the summer months. Using a moisturizer with an appropriate SPF rating is particularly effective in the winter months, since cold temperatures and dry conditions can dehydrate your skin. Moisturizing adds a secondary protection aspect, nourishing your skin so that it stays in top condition.
Contact MD Vein & Skin Specialists if you have concerns about your skin or even if you want personalized advice about your winter skincare regimen. Call the office directly or use the online booking tool to schedule your visit. Don’t forget the sunscreen on your way to the office!