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February 27, 2003-Roslyn, NY-Now is the perfect time to keep your skin healthy all winter long. Falling temperatures and brisk winds outside, together with dry heat inside, makes for an ever-changing environment that can create a variety of skin problems. Most importantly, the increase in Ultraviolet (UV) index has the potential to do some real damage to your skin this winter.The UV Index is a forecast of the next day’s ultraviolet intensity at the earth’s surface for “solar noon,” when the sun is at its highest point. Many factors are used to figure out the UV Index, including zone data from satellite observations, atmospheric pressure and temperature forecasts and expected cloudiness or ground cover, such as snow.The index is valid for about a 30-mile radius around the city it is prepared for. Anyone who spends time on a mountain in the winter should remember to adjust the UV index for elevation as UV levels increase with altitude. Sand or snow will raise the amount of UV that one will receive. UV levels increase with altitude at the rate of two percent for every thousand-foot rise in altitude, or one index number for every four thousand feet (in summer). The UV Index number is adjusted to account for the possible presence of clouds and the elevation of your location. The lower the number, the lesser amount of UV radiation reaching the surface. Low numbers occur when the sun is low in the sky and during clear or partly cloudy conditions.In addition to sun damage, there is an additional problem in the winter-the damage that can occur from the cold and the wind. Protection can be obtained with a ski mask or other clothing. However, if that is not feasible, a coating of petroleum jelly to the face provides great protection from the elements while running, skiing, etc.Anyone who participates in winter sports or spends time outdoors during the winter may ask “Do I really need a sunscreen in the winter?” “Definitely.” Joshua L. Fox, M.D., Medical Director of Advanced Dermatology P.C. and The Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery of New York states. “applying sunscreen to exposed skin is very important, even in the winter especially if skiing”. A sunscreen with SPF of 15 is the most popular formula. Many skiers, snowboarders and other outdoor enthusiasts sometimes complain of dry and scaly skin. Cold, bitter winds combined with hot dry indoor air can make your skin dry and flaky.Remember, when there is snow on the ground, it reflects much of the UV radiation right back. Fresh snow is reflective at the rate of 30 to 60 percent; the whiter the surface, the higher the UV level. If you notice major changes in the skin, you should contact your doctor immediately.Changes in the skin are not sure signs of cancer; however, it is important to see a dermatologist if and irregular growth lasts longer than two weeks. Don’t wait for the area to hurt; skin cancers seldom cause pain. Fortunately, skin cancers are easy to detect and most can be cured. Even malignant melanoma, if caught in the early stages, can be treated successfully. To learn more tips on how to protect your skin this winter, contact the doctors of with Advanced Dermatology P.C. and The Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery at (516) 625-6222. or Nicole Rubin at (718) 357-8200, Ext. 251.