The Sun - A risk hidden in front of your sight when hiking
Hiking is a great outdoor activity allowing us to be in touch with nature and exercise while providing a great sense of well-being however, despite all the positive features of this wonderful activity, there are several risks we must be aware of.
Getting lost, suffering a fall, or getting dehydrated are among the most common and obvious risks when hiking, but there's one you might never think about without proper awareness... the sun.
When you are hiking, sun exposure tends to be much higher than usual, increasing short and long-term risks of ultraviolet rays (UV) exposure.
The most obvious risk is related to sunburns, even during wintertime!
UV-A and UV-B rays exposure does not depend upon temperature, but not visible
light, thus no matter if it's summer or winter, when you are outdoors your skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays, even if the temperature is under zero degrees.
Moreover, during winter time, when there's snow all around, exposure to UV-A and UV-B rays is even higher because of direct sun exposition coming from the sky and all those rays reflecting in the snow around you. It's like being in the middle of a big mirror bombarding UV rays toward you.
That's why people practicing winter sports get sunburns the same as those on the beach during summertime.
But sunburns are a minor concern compared with the risk of skin cancer.
It has been demonstrated that ultraviolet rays exposure is cumulative over the years, and the risk of skin cancer is directly proportional to the amount of irradiation received during the lifetime.
That means the problem will show up several years after exposure, even without noticing overexposure due to lack of sunburns; furthermore, most of overexposure to UV-A and UV-B rays is not associated with sunburns but with a continuous, low dose, sustained exposure on a regular basis.
With the above in mind, sun protection remains paramount to allow safe hiking without future concerns related to our skin health.
In this regard, there are several details to keep in mind when we will be hiking, walking outdoors, and even hunting.
Since protection includes behavior, clothing, and chemical protection, we will discuss each topic in as details as possible in this post.