Winter Skin Care

The cold, wind, and sun in the winter can do as much damage, or more, than in the summer. Why? Because, number one is that we're not expecting skin problems. It's cold, so we won't burn. Wrong! Skiers be especially careful. The reflective power of the snow, the higher altitude, and the thinner atmosphere combine to really multiply the effect of the sun. For example, an unprotected average-complected person will start experiencing a sunburn after only 6 minutes during a clear noon at the 11,000-ft. top of your favorite ski resort--compared to 14 minutes in sunny Orlando.

What you can do to protect your skin
Wear protective clothing.
Avoid the strongest midday sun.
Wear sunscreen 30 SPF or higher.Put it on every portion of skin that is not covered by clothing, including bald spots, part lines, under the chin, and on the ears. Better yet, wear a hat. Reapply sunscreen at least once during the day; more often if you are sweating.
Apply lipbalm with sunscreen several times during the day.
Wear goggles or wrap-around sunglasses.
Drink more water--much more--even more than you think you should.

High Altitude Syndrome Minimize chances of getting High Altitude Syndrome
A few years ago I had the experience of being hospitalized one day in Aspen Hospital for a broken bone. In the bed next to me was a man with high altitude pulmonary edema--a very serious problem. Fortunately, that man recovered, but every year a few people die of high altitude related illness. At high altitudes, everyone is affected in some degree. The effects vary from individual to individual and cover a variety of symptoms, the worst of which is pulmonary edema. The sudden change in altitude can produce symptoms of nausea, headache shortness of breath, cough, rapid heart beat, easy fatigue, and intolerance to exertion.

Acclimatize. In other words, give your body time to adjust to the new altitude. Don't overdo the first few days.
Arrive in shape for the activity you have planned. (Although even persons "in shape" can get high altitude syndrome)
Eat lightly the first 2 days and especially avoid heavy alcohol.
Drink lots of water. Drink whenever you can, and more than you think you can. Prehydrate before you activity, carry a water bottle with you to hydrate during your activity, and rehydrate after your activity. Any fluids, other than water, are in addition to the necessary water intake. Read this again. I cannot emphasize this enough.
If symptoms are severe or unimproved, or if there is any question, then seek immediate medical attention.

Acetazolamide has been shown to reduce the incidence of high altitude syndrome when administered as a prophylactic. It can be used where rapid ascent is unavoidable or for individuals with a history of altitude illness. It is not a substitute for other measures to minimize high altitude syndrome though. Check with your doctor to see if you're a candidate.


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page last updated on February 3rd 2001