If you're heading to the ski fields this season, take your sun protection gear with you to help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.
With the ski season officially opening, SunSmart Manager Sue Heward is urging people to protect themselves from ultraviolet (UV) radiation at the snow.
"Protecting yourself from the sun's UV radiation is vitally important in alpine areas or near reflective surfaces such as snow or water."
"Exposure to UV radiation can cause skin damage and sunburn which increases your risk of skin cancer. Both occur easily at the snow even when conditions are cold or overcast."
"UV radiation levels are more intense at high altitude than at sea level. There is up to 10 per cent more UV radiation at Mt Buller, Falls Creek and Hotham than at sea level."
"Water and snow are also highly reflective. On a sunny day, clean fresh snow can reflect as much as 90 per cent of UV radiation. This means that UV radiation not only reaches you directly, it reaches you indirectly when it is scattered and reflected by the snow," she said.
SunSmart has developed an information sheet on how to protect your skin and eyes at the snow:
- Apply SPF30+, broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen and lip balm or zinc at least 20 minutes before going outside.
- Cover your skin by wearing tops with long sleeves and high necks or collars and wear a balaclava or a beanie with flaps to cover your ears.
- Protect your eyes with sunglasses or snug-fitting goggles that meet Australian Standards.
- Try and have a break and get inside during the middle of the day.
SunSmart says sun protection at the snow is the exception during the winter months in Victoria.
"From May to August when you are not in alpine areas or near reflective surfaces it's important to get some UV exposure to maintain vitamin D levels, which is important for general health," Ms Heward said.
For more information on sun protection and vitamin D and to check UV levels go to www.sunsmart.com.au. To find out UV forecasts in Alpine areas go to the Bureau of Meteorology website www.bom.gov.au.
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