Skiers and snowboarders should always wear sunscreen, even when the sun is hiding behind the clouds, according to a new study published in the November issue of the Archives of Dermatology.
The study authors stated that “adults should be encouraged to wear sunscreen on cloudy days because UV is still high and conditions can change rapidly.” They also noted that many people inaccurately associate temperature and cloud cover with UV, which makes skiers and snowboarders vulnerable to sunburn and all of its potential consequences, including sunburn, actinic keratosis, and an increased risk of developing skin cancer.
Data was collected on on 3,937 skiers and snowboarders at 32 high-altitude ski resorts in western North America from 2001 to 2003. The researchers found that the strongest predictors of heavy UV light exposure were close proximity to noon time, clear skies, and a greater number of days away from the winter solstice (December 21).
In a statement published in Medical News Today, dermatologist Doris Day, MD, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, said the study “shows that people who participate in outdoor activities are at higher risk for sun damage and skin cancer than they may realize.”
“It highlights the importance of counseling patients to wear UV protection every day all year round,” she added, “especially if they are participating in outdoor activities at higher altitudes, and especially if they are at higher risk for skin cancer.”