When the first drop of snow falls, it's a sign winter has arrived and what more is there to do than have a warm mug of cocoa in the comforts of your home? While some people would rather stay indoors, other guys prefer to enjoy the various winter outdoor activities, such as skiing.
As you all may know, skiing is one of the most enjoyable winter activities, but, like all sports, it has its dangers. However, a risk of skiing that many aren't aware of is ski sunburn. We understand the term can be confusing. Thus, we'll discuss everything you need to know about the subject in today's article. With that aside, let's get started.
What is a ski sunburn?
As you all may know, sunlight during the winter isn't as harsh on the skin, unlike sunlight during the summer. Hence, when someone asks the question: "can you get a sunburn in the winter?" you would expect the answer to be no. However, it's quite the opposite.
Ski sunburn, or what others would know as snow sunburn, is proof that an individual can still get sunburnt during the winter season. Does it differ from the normal sunburn you get? Yes and no. Technically, it is still a sunburn, and you would treat it like any other sunburn. But they have a few differences.
Before we get into what makes a ski sunburn different from a usual sunburn, let's look into its similarities first. Aside from treatment, ski sunburns also share similar symptoms with a typical sunburn. So, what are the signs of a sunburn? These symptoms include warm inflamed reddish skin, itching, blisters, and even headaches or fevers (Cleveland Clinic, 2021). When you notice any of these symptoms, you should treat them immediately.
How does it occur?
So, how do ski sunburns differ from your typical sunburns? The difference between these two types of sunburns lies in the manner they develop. When a person goes skiing, they will spend most of their time on the mountain slopes, where the altitude is higher. Moreover, this higher altitude is one of the factors why you get sunburns while skiing.
According to world-renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Gerald Imber (n.d.) from Men's Journal, the intensity of sunlight is multiplied by ten for every thousand metres you are above sea level. So, you can only imagine how strong the sunlight is on a snowy mountain. On top of that, the properties of snow allow it to reflect sunlight back into the sky. This means that our skin will absorb the sunlight travelling back into the sky, exposing our skin to even more ultraviolet rays.
How do you prevent ski sunburns?
As you may notice from the section above, our skin becomes more vulnerable on snowy mountains than on sunny beaches. Hence, we must know how to prevent ski sunburn by preparing our skin accordingly. But how does one do that? Here are some tips you might want to do before skiing.
1. Use a moisturiser
Whether you're heading up the mountains to ski or simply running to the store, you may have noticed that your skin feels dry despite the lack of heat present in the weather. That's because, during the winter, the presence of moisture or humidity in the air dramatically decreases (Eagle, 2021).
When this happens, our skin isn't able to gather and store enough moisture from the environment, causing it to become dehydrated as we spend our time outdoors. Plus, when our skin dries, our skin barrier weakens. The skin barrier is a layer of our skin responsible for protecting it from unwanted bacteria and sun damage. Thus, you want to ensure your skin stays hydrated.
What moisturiser should you use?
When choosing a moisturiser, it is a rule of thumb to use a cream-based product if you have naturally dry skin. Otherwise, you can opt for a lotion instead. Although, if you have naturally acne-prone skin, you want to get a non-comedogenic product. Items labelled as such contain ingredients that can eliminate bacteria and debris in your pores.
Moreover, be careful when purchasing a moisturiser. Some products might contain heavy artificial fragrances that may cause skin irritations. If you're unsure which lotion to get, a good example is the Mantisfy Anti-aging and Repairing lotion.
The lotion contains humectants, which are moisturising agents well-known for their exceptional ability to provide and retain moisture in our skin. Specifically, it uses glycerin as one of its humectants. This is because glycerin can penetrate deep into the skin and provide hydration to its deepest parts.
Another good thing for lotions is to have antioxidants to help fight free radicals and strengthen protection against the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. So, the Mantisfy lotion is an excellent pick as it also contains edelweiss—a herb known for its antioxidant properties. Lastly, apply your moisturiser twice per day during the winter season. However, if you have naturally oily skin, use it only once during other seasons.
2. Apply sunscreen
After moisturising your skin, you will want to apply your sunscreen next. Unfortunately, most people assume that applying sunscreen when they go to the beach or, in this case, when they go to the ski resort. However, most people are unaware that sunscreen is an essential part of skin care for men. So, remember to use sunscreen every day before heading out.
When purchasing sunscreen, you must ensure it has at least a 30 SPF rating. Remember to apply sunscreen every day before heading out, no matter the season or occasion. It's important to always protect our skin from the sun; otherwise, sun damage could cause premature ageing and be weaker against bacteria.
How do you treat ski sunburns?
Like most common health concerns, ski sunburns have their own home remedies, and you would treat them just like a usual sunburn. However, this is only recommended for light cases. If you are experiencing a severe case of sunburn, you should seek the advice of a medical professional. Such cases of sunburn are often characterised by leathery-looking and numb skin, dizziness, headaches, cramps, and exhaustion (Cleveland Clinic, 2021).
The first thing you want to do when treating a sunburn at home is to rehydrate yourself by drinking lots of water. Next, take a cool shower to help ease the pain from the sunburn. After that, cover the affected area of your skin until it heals, especially when going outside.
Aside from these, you can also use hydrating gels or moisturisers to help soothe and hydrate the affected area. Like we said earlier, avoid using lotions or creams with heavy artificial fragrances that may irritate your skin. You can try using a gentle moisturising lotion like the Mantisfy lotion. Finally, never touch or peel off the skin of your blisters, and let them heal on their own.
Winter may be the coldest time of the year, but that doesn't mean we are immune to the risks of sunburn. By ensuring our skin stays hydrated and regularly applying sunscreen, you will, without a doubt, be guaranteed to be safe from a nasty burn. Though in the case you do, you can try the home remedy mentioned above, and never hesitate to consult a medical professional when you feel the need.
IMBER, G. (n.d.). Why Even Sunscreen Users Get Burned on Ski Trips. Men’s Journal. Weblog[Online]. Available at: https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/why-even-sunscreen-users-get-sunburned-on-ski-trips/. (Accessed at: 2022 December 29).
EAGLE, R. (2021). What to know about dry skin in winter. MedicalNewsToday. Weblog[Online]. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/winter-dry-skin. (Accessed at: 2022 December 29).
CLEVELAND CLINIC (2021). Sunburn. Weblog[Online]. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21858-sunburn. (Accessed at: 2022 December 29).