Be wary of the alpine hotspots

Mt Hotham Falls Creek - - FRONT PAGE -

SNOW sport lovers headed to the snow this win­ter are be­ing warned not to pack away their sun pro­tec­tion just yet.

Vic­to­rian SunS­mart man­ager Heather Walker said alpine re­gions were sun­burn hotspots in win­ter, when high al­ti­tudes and snow can re­sult in an in­creased risk of ul­tra­vi­o­let dam­age.

“When it’s cold out­side, sun pro­tec­tion is the last thing on our minds,” Ms Walker said.

“But don’t let the frost fool you – if you don’t take the proper steps to pro­tect your skin, UV dam­age will add up and in­crease your risk of skin can­cer.”

De­spite the cold cli­mate, UV lev­els can be more in­tense at snow­fields than other ar­eas of the state in win­ter be­cause of the dou­ble dose of UV ra­di­a­tion vis­i­tors can re­ceive.

The first comes di­rectly from the sun, but is more in­tense be­cause UV lev­els in­crease with el­e­va­tion. Mea­sure­ments taken in Victoria sug­gest UV lev­els in­crease by 10 to 12 per cent with ev­ery 1000 me­tre in­crease in al­ti­tude.

The sec­ond dose comes from snow-covered sur­faces, which can re­flect up to 90 per cent of UV ra­di­a­tion on a sunny day.

Ms Walker said alpine vis­i­tors of­ten mis­took sun­burn for wind­burn and in­cor­rectly at­tempted to pre­vent skin dam­age with mois­tur­is­ing lo­tions.

“While wind can cer­tainly dry our skin, it doesn’t ac­tu­ally burn it. That red, sting­ing and peel­ing ef­fect on our skin is ac­tu­ally the re­sult of UV rays,” she said.

“Un­like most weather con­di­tions, we can’t see or feel UV ra­di­a­tion, so we have to be care­ful not to let our senses trick us.”

To pre­vent UV dam­age to the skin and eyes this win­ter, SunS­mart rec­om­mends all Vic­to­ri­ans in alpine ar­eas:

Slop on a SPF30 or higher, broad-spec­trum, wa­ter-re­sis­tant sun­screen be­fore head­ing out­side for the day, in­clud­ing a SPF lip balm.

Carry a small sun­screen and lip balm in your jacket pocket to re-ap­ply sun­screen through­out the day.

Slide on ski gog­gles or wrap-around sun­glasses la­belled with the Aus­tralian Stan­dard for eye pro­tec­tion (AS:1067).

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