If you’re from Iowa, then you might associate the word “sunscreen” with a warm summer day and not with cold winter weather. Dermatologists would disagree. Skin that’s unprotected from sun can be damaged even by feeble winter sunlight, as studies show.
A broad-spectrum sunscreen used on the face, neck, ears and hands is a good idea all year round, particularly for persons at increased risk of developing skin cancer. This includes persons with:
• Fair skin, blond or red hair and/or light eyes
• Many moles (50 or more)
• Family history of skin cancer
• Multiple sunburns and/or history of unprotected exposure to sun
• History of tanning bed use
• Reduced immune system function
Unlike many cancers, skin cancer can be seen. Pay attention to changing or new moles or sores, and have them checked by a physician promptly. When caught and treated early, skin cancer is highly curable.
Though you might think, “Well, I can just have that spot removed sometime,” cancer of any kind can spread. Don’t let melanoma, basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas take hold. If untreated, these skin cancers can cause disfigurement or even death.
Using sunscreen in winter is not such a crazy idea after all.
Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.