Be Sun Aware During the Winter

Founded in 1999, the Melanoma Foundation of New England (MFNE) is dedicated to educating the public about sun-safe behavior and the importance of melanoma prevention and early detection.

The New England States have a higher rate of new melanoma diagnoses when compared to the national average.  As families head to New England’s beautiful mountain regions this winter to enjoy the range of winter sports in the snow, the MFNE reminds all to remain sun aware:

  • Avoid unprotected exposure to sunlight, seek shade, and never indoor tan.  Try to plan your ski trips during times of low sun exposure including early in the morning or later in the day (before 10 am and after 4 pm).
  • Wear sun protective clothing, including ski masks or ski goggles that cover large areas of skin and contain SPF protection; wear long sleeves (even on warmer Spring days on the slopes) and wear sunglasses year-round.
  • Apply recommended amounts of broad-spectrum sunscreen at least 30 minutes before hitting the slopes; sunscreen should have a sunburn protection factor (SPF) greater than or equal to 30.  Apply to all exposed skin and reapply every two hours, or as needed – especially the face, back of the neck and under the chin.  The sun’s reflection off the snow is strong even on cloudy days.  Always wear a lip-balm with SPF, lips are particularly sensitive.  Remember to take breaks every 2 hours during the day to reapply sunscreen!
  • Routinely examine your whole body for changes in your skin and report concerns to a parent or healthcare provider.
  •  Educate your family and community about the need to be sun aware.

Deb Girard, Executive Director of the MFNE, notes that although the statistics are staggering — melanoma rates are increasing faster than nearly all other cancers with an epidemic growth rate of 3% annually, skiers, snowboarders and other winter revelers can protect themselves from the damaging effects of the sun by taking simple precautions.   “Even during the winter months exposure to both UVB rays, which cause sunburns, and UVA rays, which cause tanning, increases your chance of getting skin cancer,” she said.  “The sun is twice as strong when it reflects off the snow, and the mist of a cloudy day magnifies the sun’s rays.  While enjoying New England’s beautiful ski resorts and outdoor activities this winter we encourage you to cover up, apply sunscreen and protect yourself and your family for a fun – and safe – day in the snow.”

Melanoma Facts

  • Melanoma rates are increasing faster than nearly all other cancers.
  • Melanoma is a relatively easy disease to prevent.
  • Most melanomas are easy to stop if caught soon enough — all it takes is a yearly skin exam.
  • Melanoma kills one person every hour.
  • Melanoma is the most common cancer among women aged 25-32
  • As many as 10,000 people a year die from melanoma.
  • The New England states have a higher than average rate of melanoma

Learn more about the Foundation at

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