“Winter” Sunburns in November in Arizona

"Winter" Sunburns in Arizona | Spectrum Dermatology, Scottsdale

“Winter” Sunburns in November in Arizona

There is an average of 211 “sunny” days in Phoenix and 83 “partly sunny” days, so it comes as no surprise that winter sunburns are a real threat throughout Arizona. Spectrum Dermatology is committed to providing every patient with thorough annual skin checks and the best in preventative care to keep skin cancer and sun damage at bay. There are various types of skin cancers, with melanoma being the deadliest, but the good news is that all skin cancers are preventable and easy to treat—if they are caught early.

The Harmful Rays of the Sun

It’s important to conduct self-checks throughout the year and keep an eye on moles with the ABCD approach. Closely watch moles that are atypical, have borders that are irregular, change colors, and/or have diameters larger than an eraser on a pencil. However, the ABCDs of skin cancer are just general rules. No self-checks or online “diagnoses” can take the place of yearly skin exams. Only a dermatologist can diagnose skin cancer and catch it in the earliest stages. Sometimes skin cancer looks like a regular, healthy mole, and sometimes skin cancer occurs when there is no mole at all.

Moles are just one sign of sun damage. Hyperpigmentation, or a darkening of the skin, is a sun damage symptom that can present in many ways. You might notice beige or brown spots, an increase in freckles, and even a gray-ish “mask” known as melasma (although this is most common for pregnant women). The skin is the largest organ of the body, and it protects itself from harmful UV rays by increasing melanin production at the sites of sun exposure. Tanning is ultimately a sign that the skin is being harmed by sun exposure and is trying to protect itself.

It can take years or even decades for the full effects of sun damage to show up on the skin. This is why we continue to develop brown spots or age spots, moles, and freckles as we get older. That sunburn we got on vacation ten years ago might still be showing up in various forms of hyperpigmentation today.

Protect Your Skin

It’s unfortunately common to reduce or stop using sunscreen in the winter months. However, bear in mind that especially in states like Arizona, sun damage and burns can occur year-round. Even on cloudy days, UV rays are a risk. To learn more about winter sunburns, how to avoid them, and to schedule your annual skin check before the end of 2019, contact Spectrum Dermatology today.