Winter is here and the skies are cloudy, but that doesn't mean that your risk of skin cancer has gone away. The fact is that winter carries its own increased risk of skin cancer. That's because the cloudy skies often provide a false sense of security, which means you let your guard down. Unfortunately, when it comes to skin cancer, you can't afford to do that. Here are four steps that will help protect your skin from the risk of cancer this winter.

Schedule a Skin Exam

If you haven't had a skin exam lately, you need to schedule that right away. Even if you conduct routine exams of your skin, there are areas of your body that you can't see. Not only that, but some forms of skin cancer is difficult to detect. To make sure your skin is clear, you've got to be examined by your physician. The best time to do that is right after the summer, when your skin has received the most direct contact exposure.

Continue With the Sunscreen

If you put your sunscreen away as soon as summer ends, you need to get it back out of the cabinet. Your skin needs to be protected by sunscreen all year long, even during the cold winter months. There are still parts of your body that are exposed to the sun during the winter – think hands, face and neck. Apply sunscreen before you head outside each day. Reapply the sunscreen once every couple of hours, especially if you'll be outside all day.

Don't Forget Your Lips and Eyes

If you haven't taken precautions to protect your lips and eyes, you're jeopardizing your health. Most people don't think about those areas of the body. However, your lips and eyes are at risk for cancer too. Apply protective balm to your lips several times a day, and always wear protective sunglasses whenever you go outside. This will ensure that your eyes and lips are protected too. It's also a good idea to lather some extra sunscreen onto your nose and ears too. Those areas can't be ignored either.

Take Precautions in Higher Elevations

If you're heading up into the mountains for some hiking or skiing this winter, add an extra layer of sun protection. Higher elevations bring a heightened risk of skin cancer. Always wear long sleeved shirts when heading up into the mountains, even when the temperatures are mild – or you're overheated. It's also important that you remember to wear a hat that provides protection for your face.

Talk to a skin cancer treatment center for more help.