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Is Sunscreen Necessary During Winter?

Is Sunscreen Necessary During Winter? 

We’re only a few weeks away from winter, and for many individuals, in addition to preparing for the holidays, they’ll be preparing for the seasonal changes their skin often experiences such as dryness and irritation. Most know that this is the time of year to provide a little extra TLC to their skin by increasing the usage of moisturizers and protecting their skin from the elements, but many are unaware that they have a tendency to neglect the most important component for protecting and caring for their skin - sunscreen! 

It might surprise you, but sunscreen usage during the winter months is every bit as critical as during the summer. While in South Florida we may not be subjected to the same temperature extremes and harsh environmental conditions our northern neighbors contend with every year, we still are very vulnerable to the sun’s harmful effects. During the winter, the ozone layer, a special component of the atmosphere which functions as the Earth’s natural sunscreen, is at its thinnest. This means that we are exposed to greater intensity UVA rays, which are associated with photo-aging, as well as UVB rays, which damages skin cells and increase the likelihood of developing skin cancers, including melanoma. Additionally, the effects of the sun are cumulative: failing to wear sunscreen for 3-4 months increases the degree of accumulated damage over time - rendering you more likely to develop skin cancers as well as fine lines and undesirable textural and pigmentary changes. You wouldn’t forget to wear your seatbelt for an entire season out of the year, so don’t forget to apply sunscreen - the most important way you can protect your skin! 

We recommend daily applications of sunscreen - year round! It’s important to choose a brand which provides broad spectrum coverage, meaning that it protects you from both UVB as well as UVA rays. We further advise that you apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to the face and body. Finally, we advocate for selecting products containing the active ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These ingredients sit on top of the skin and provide a physical barrier against the sun, and also tend to be less-irritating and thus a better fit for sensitive skin as opposed to sunscreens which contain chemical blocking agents. We understand that there is a veritable sea of brands that provide an impressive number of options, and if you’re unsure as to which to choose, your provider would be happy to recommend a product that would be the most suitable for you. Our office also provides several readily available options, ranging from EltaMD to Eryfotona so that you can grab, apply, and go!

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