When hitting the slopes this winter how much thought will be given to sun safety?  This winter throngs of beginners, intermediates and advanced skiers and boarders will flock to the slopes in search of adrenalin, thrills and fun in the snow.  Whilst the dangers of skiing and boarding are well documented; often the dangers of UV radiation on the slopes are overlooked.  The risk of sunburn and skin damage from UV radiation is much greater in the Alpine regions despite it being cold. UV radiation cannot be seen or felt and up to 80% of the sun’s rays can penetrate clouds so visitors are being warned to take at least as much care of your skin a skiing/boarding holiday as you would on a summer vacation.

UV radiation levels are more intense at higher altitudes than at sea level because the air is cleaner and there is less air to filter the harmful UV rays.  UV levels increase 10-12% for every 1000m of elevation therefore the higher skiers and boarders go, the greater their risk of sunburn.

Snow is highly reflective-on a clear sunny day, clean fresh powder can reflect as much as 85% of UV radiation.  This means that not only does the UV radiation reach you directly from above, but also indirectly from below by being reflected. Keen skiers will be exposed to these rays  6-7 hours per day in their search for the ultimate run or perfection of technique.

So make sure that you Stay safe in the sun by making sure that you follow the simple pointers below.

  • Cover up-Most ski clothing is designed to cover most of your body and keep you warm, but don’t forget the bits which are not covered.  Cover your head with a beanie, balaclava or helmet with flaps to cover your ears.
  • UV levels are highest between 11am and 3pm so remember to take a break and go indoors or in the shade.
  • Generously apply SPF15+ (UVA and UVB) water resistant sun cream to all exposed areas.  Remember to apply sun cream under your chin, under the tip of your nose and behind your ears due to the reflective nature of the sun.
  • Wear a SPF15+ or zinc based lip balm
  • Reapply sun cream every 2 hours and do not burn
  • Wear goggles or sunglasses which protect your eyes from at least 95% of UV light
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated
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