What's Heat Got to Do With It?
It’s been unreasonably and, I’ll just say it, unseasonably warm in my area of Tennessee this winter. We are talking about 70 degrees on Christmas Day. Temperatures like this lead to a lot of confusion and frustration. Not only does it not feel or look like the holiday season, but it creates a false sense of security when it comes to sun protection.
Sun protection in the winter months
Things are so strange right now in my neck of the woods, in fact, that I am seeing posts about friends getting sunburns in December. Twice in the same day, I saw pictures on social media of people in the deep South complaining about getting too much sun over Christmas break. There really is only one way that something like this happens; people are still confusing sun exposure with the temperature.
Think sun, not temperature
Heat has little to do with how and when you get a sunburn, but the sun has everything to do with it. It tends to be much cooler when the sun is hidden behind clouds, but cloudy days are still days with sun, which means, you guessed it, you can still experience skin damage. You have every bit the chance of exposing yourself to UV rays on cloudy days as you do on days when the sun is brightly shining. In fact, many folks find themselves extending their time in the sun on cloudy days without realizing how long they have been outdoors only to find themselves with sunburn lines at the end of the day.
Utilize sunscreen everyday
The mild temperatures have driven southerners outdoors this winter. I have seen neighbors in shorts, yards being mowed at high noon, and kids around every corner playing outdoors without the need for even a light jacket. The 60 and 70 degree days will make the most diligent among us forget that sunscreen is still a necessity even when the temps are far from scorching. Sunscreen, however, is a must 365 days a year. Sun damage knows no season and is definitely not tied to a certain range of temperatures.
Retraining our brains
I expect to see more of the same for a few more weeks. Weather in the South is a strange thing indeed. It is not unusual to see a 75-degree afternoon give way to a night that falls below freezing. All of this makes it very difficult to treat each day as if it were a sweltering summer vacation day. But that, friends, is where we all need a change of mindset. Our sunscreen use and sun protection measures should not in any way be limited to a season or a temperature. We need to retrain our thinking.
A good habit worth forming
Sun protection should become a habit we both preach and practice, and it should be daily and done with diligence. Keeping sunscreen on the bathroom counter, in your suitcases no matter what time of year or where the trip is planned, and part of the daily hygiene routine are absolute musts. The only way we will change more mindsets is to change how we think about sunburn. Sunburn can happen any time of year and knows no set temperature. Be cautious out there because skin cancer doesn’t take a break, neither should we!
Have you found yourself with a sunburn at an odd time of year? Tell us about it in the comments!
How well have your skin cancer diagnoses been explained to you?