HELENA – When temperatures drop and the snow falls, winter recreationists rejoice, but many don’t realize the risk of sun damage, even in the winter.
With the combination of higher altitude and UV rays reflected off the snow, people are at an increased risk for sun-damage or worse- skin cancer.
There are two types of rays that come from the sun, UVA, and UVB, both can damage the skin, causing premature aging and skin cancer such as melanoma.
“I am very aware of the sun, I don’t wear sunblock like I should, you should wear sunblock in the winter because the sun is still damaging,” Amy Wood, a Helena resident said.
Wood said she is very active outside during winter months with her dog Pistol.
Jake Massamn, also a Helena resident said he does a lot of backcountry skiing.
“When I first start out skiing, I’m pretty bundled up to start but you know a lot of times I’m breaking trail and that’s hard work, I can strip down to shorts and t-shirt,” said Massamn.
On exposed skin, the American Academy of Dermatology says sunscreen should be applied every hour to two hours with an SPF30 or greater.
Erik Makus said he enjoys running and cross-country skiing and is aware of the dangers of winter sun. Makus makes sure he and his family are always protected.
“We use sunblock all the time if it’s going to be sunny because in the winter, with the snow, it's almost as bad as full-on summer,” said Makus.