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Melanoma dangers in winter

(Source Raycom Media) (Source Raycom Media)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -When the temperatures start to drop and winter weather rolls around, most people think they can put away the sunscreen, but doctors say that's not true. U-V rays from the sun have the potential to harm you, year round. 

There are two types of rays, U-V-A and U-V-B both of which cause damage to the skin  like pre-mature aging and cancer like melanoma. More than two million Americans are diagnosed each year with skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. This makes it the most common type of cancer in the United States. The good news, it's one of the easiest to prevent by covering up with a broad spectrum sunscreen and clothing.

Typically, you think skin cancer and melanoma are summer problems, but the sun is in the sky every day, and even during the winter, a lot of people are outdoors. 

Snow also reflects up to 80 percent of the sun's rays, According to MD Anderson Cancer Center. A day on the slopes can do as much damage to your skin as a day on the beach.

Doctor Daniel Dorton at Comanche County Memorial Hospital says even though it might be cloudy or be cold out, keeping those layers on and skin covered with sunscreen is important. 

"Just because it's colder outside you don't feel the severe burning on your skin that you normally would during the summer, so the best thing to do even when it's a little bit cool out, try to cover your arms just like you would, full sleeve coverage, things of that nature," said Dorton.

During winter, the Northern Hemisphere points away from the sun, and the atmosphere blocks some of the sun's harmful UV rays, but the sun can still be strong, regardless of season or temperature.

"You're getting the same exposure that you would during the summer and people just tend to neglect the fact that they're outside doing activities and having fun," said Dorton. "They may be wearing long sleeves, but a lot of time they won't be wearing hats or anything to protect their face, so they need to remember to put SPF coverage on."

As we know in Oklahoma, the temperatures fluctuate, so Doctor Dorton suggests always keeping a bottle of sunscreen handy.

"You want to make sure that you're reapplying several times throughout the day," said Dorton. "Same thing with the skin coverage, if you have on short sleeves, possibly wear a longer sleeve or if you're out throughout the day not wearing a hat or anything like that, you might want to apply some coverage to your head that way you're in the shade a little bit more."

According to MD Anderson Cancer Center, everyone should use the ABCDE's of the melanoma guide and get their skin checked monthly by a dermatologist.

The A is for asymmetrical shape.B is for border.C is for color. D is for Diameter and E is for evolution. These are the most common factors to classify melanoma, According to MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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