Skin and Hair
This site is provided for informational
purposes only. The information here is not intended to diagnose
or treat any condition, and should not replace the care and attention
of qualified medical personnel. Use the information on these pages
at your own risk, and, as with any information pertaining to health,
nutrition, mental health, or fitness, consult your physician before making any
changes that might affect your overall health.
Our first major
experience with sunburn occurred our first spring here. We
had been indoors all winter, and were totally unprepared for
the intensity of the sun when we re-exposed our skin the following
higher altitudes, the sun rays are not filtered as well by
the atmosphere. The result is cooler temperatures, combined
with increased light intensity. The combination is deceptive,
and potentially dangerous.
am not a proponent of sunscreen all the time. I happen to
believe that nature knows best, and the healthiest people
have always been those that worked outdoors, not in. And this
has been true long before the advent of sunscreen! I think
that in another 20 years, we are going to be hearing an awful
lot about the dangers of too much sunscreen, while at the
current time, every time you turn around, someone is telling
you to slather unnatural chemicals on your skin!
I do not doubt that some types of sun exposure are dangerous.
Repeated sunburns are a high risk factor for cancer. But I
have noticed in our time here, that really, Spring is the
only dangerous time.
tend to stay indoors a lot in the winter, so when we go back
out in the spring, the first few exposures can be harsh. The
kids invariably burn the first time they go out in shirt sleeves
for more than an hour in the springtime. So we have them use
sunscreen during the "high burn risk" times. But
we also let them build up a tan for the year, and then they
work and play outside without sunscreen, and after the first
month, they do not burn. Kevin and I do the same thing, applying
sunscreen if we are out for the first time, or if we know
we will be out in unusual circumstances, such as on the river
for the day where sun exposure would be far more intense than
is surprising to people up here is, you can get sunburned
in the shade. There is enough reflected light, that even sitting
in a shaded area, sensitive skin can sunburn. You need to
be especially careful if you are taking medication, or St.
John's Wort, which can make your skin extra sensitive to the
sun. Please take this warning seriously, and apply sunscreen
to avoid a burn, even if you are planning on wearing a sun
hat or staying in the shade, because the light really can
be that intense.
at high altitude may also have a longer delay factor - they
may not show up until you are more seriously burned than you
would be at lower altitude. In other words, by the time you
notice that you are turning pink, you may be actually in the
process of developing a second degree burn that will blister.
Fair skin can begin to burn within half an hour, and two hours
can burn you badly enough to give you trouble sleeping
additional care if you are out in the sun for the first major
exposure in the spring, or if you are going to be out for
the majority of a morning or afternoon. If you are visiting,
please bring along a high SPF sunscreen and use it. The goal
is not to avoid sun exposure, it is, specifically, to avoid
Editorial Comments throughout this site written by Laura Wheeler (with occasional sarcastic remarks by her son, David). Laura is a 10 year resident of Medicine Bow, Wyoming, where the altitude is greater than the population. Medicine Bow is at 6200+ ft above sea level, and boasts a total of 297 residents from the last census. Laura is an experienced technical, health and family writer.