Hi there - I have only been in the program a week and I had run last week and lo and behold the next morning I had the reddest cheeks, and they were a little bit sore. I live in New England -it was about 30 degrees out and maybe a little breezy. I had a knit hat on and my forehead didn't get red, just my cheeks and nose a little. I had taken a walk with a friend after, so I was out in this weather for about an hour and a half. So my question is, should I be wearing sun screen, or putting vaseline on my cheeks to protect me or triple antibiotic lotion? Thanks so much friends...
90 minutes is a lot of exposure for harsh weather, especially with little tree cover. There could be some sunburn, but it sounds like windburn is partly responsible. I am reminded of the racoon rash ski bums get. The good news is, a little healthy glow from the sun exposure could help your skin. However, due to the angle of the sun, it takes a lot longer to develop vitamin D in the skin this time of year, especially that far north. You may not get any at all, but there are also less hours of daylight to get enough sun exposure to do as much damage in the winter. Using sunblock could be a waste of money until summer, when the sun is out longer.
The type of vitamin D you get from the sun (D3 sulfate) is not available as a supplement, and sunblock halts its production, so get your vitamin D while you can. It's safer now than in the summer, when sun damage is more common. A little moisturizing lotion, maybe even a tanning lotion, is a healthier choice. Vaseline is overkill, unless the temps are much lower. If it makes you feel safer, add a tiny dab of sunblock for the sensitive parts of your nose and cheeks after applying your moisturizing lotion. I spot-block in the summer for long runs to avoid the same burn pattern as what you may have.
When running in sub-freezing weather, you need to factor in the wind chill for the headwind plus your running speed, in order to avoid frostbite. When it is calm, running at 5mph, the wind chill at 30 degrees would be 25. Even if your headwind was 55mph, the wind chill would only be 10 degrees above zero. That's not anywhere near cold enough to cause frostbite after a half hour of running. It would have to be 10 below and calm, or 10 above with a 55mph headwind, to get you into frostbite territory.
Even if you don't get a tan, I applaud your discipline for getting out in this weather. I hope this incident does not discourage you from exercising outdoors. Welcome to the sport, and many more happy miles!
Message was edited by: James Johnson LMT
Thank you so much for your thorough advice and recommendations. I am determined to continue the program. I was out yesterday with a little lotion and it was fine. I think being out for 90 minutes was likely what caused the redness/soreness. Here in New England we have been lucky with unseasonably mild weather. Yesterday it was almost 50 degrees, and we have no snow accumulation, which is critical to my running because I can't run on pavement anymore. I have a place in my town that has trails that are far softer on my body. Hopefully this nice weather will continue. Thanks again - Deb.
Good weather like this does make people throw caution to the wind, so to speak
I must apologize for stating in error that dangerous UVA solar radiation is less common in the winter, due to the angle of the sun. That was incorrect. The sun's angle only affects the beneficial (D producing) UVB rays. The only limiting factor for UVA in the winter is less daylight. In fact, it is the short-length UVB rays that are harder to get in the winter, concentrating around midday, and requiring more exposure time for a similar effect to what you might get in only 20 minutes of summer midday sun.
Related to that, is the finding that melanoma is more common among those who work indoors near a sun-lit window. It turns out that windows typically block only UVB, while the dangerous UVA remains unchecked. Ironically, it is those who work outdoors, often the economically disadvantaged, who benefit from greater UVB exposure. Whether it is due to walking, riding bikes, or waiting for busses, this exposure translates into less incidence of melanoma among that demographic. The mechanism in both cases appears to be the difference, not in total sun exposure, but in UVB exposure, which stimulates vitamin D3 sulfate production in exposed skin. This in turn limits melanoma, and cancer in general, through various physiological mechanisms.
There is some question as to whether diagnoses of skin cancer are too cautious, and whether the increase in reported incidences of melanoma are inaccurate. A recent study concluded that benign lesions were being improperly labeled as melanomas due to gradual changes in diagnostic practice, called "diagnostic drift." There is also the possibility that the greater percentage of those with higher incomes that are diagnosed with melanoma is more related to a higher standard of care, and aggressive, preemptive treatment, than to increased sun exposure.
So I'd say a half-hour of direct exposure to the noon-day sun in the winter would be a good thing. Since vitamin D production ceases once a certain level is reached, more is not better. You might not get the benefits of those who are out longer, but you will get the best ratio of B to A at the most effective time. If you are running mornings or evenings when only UVA is present, sunblock makes more sense. I know this is the opposite of the outdated advice we often hear, but it is current science.
I will correct my earlier post in case some student googles it for a homework assignment. Don't want them to get, ahem, burned.