Understanding Ultraviolet Radiation

Sunlight emits UV rays, along with many other kinds of rays.  Light bulbs also give off UV Rays.

There are 3 types of UV rays:

UVA

These rays are more penetrating than UVB rays therefore playing a major part in the skin aging and wrinkling process.  They also contribute to damage in the skin causing skin cancer in the future.

UVB

These rays are the main cause of sunburns.  They damage the skin’s outer layers playing a key role in the growth of skin cancer.

UVC

These rays are absorbed by our atmosphere before reaching the surface.
How do these rays cause skin cancer?

These UV rays react with a chemical, which is the first defense against the sun. in the skin called melanin.  Because the melanin can only absorb some UV rays, excess damages our skin causing: Sunburn- When the amount of UV rays exceed the melanin protection the UV days cause pain, redness, and blistering, premature aging of the skin – Also called photoaging, freckling, wrinkling

How UV rays affect the skin In most cases, UV rays react with a chemical in the skin called melanin. This is the first defense against the sun. Melanin absorbs the dangerous UV rays that can do serious skin damage. But melanin can’t absorb all the UV rays, and some people don’t have much melanin in their skin. Exposure to UV rays is linked to harmful health conditions such as:

Sunburn – A sunburn happens when the amount of UV rays exceeds the protection that the skin’s melanin can provide. Sunburn is damage to the skin. It causes pain, redness, and blistering.

Premature aging of the skin – Premature aging of the skin is also called photoaging. Signs of photoaging include earlier-than-normal freckling, wrinkling, loss of collagen, and widening of small blood vessels in the skin. These changes can happen earlier and more quickly in people who sunbathe regularly. The skin may also develop brown spots (liver spots) in later years.

Skin cancer – More than 2 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the U.S. each year. Skin cancer is more common as people get older, but skin damage from the sun begins at an early age. Protection should start in childhood to prevent skin cancer later in life.

What is the UV Index?

The UV Index is an official forecast from international weather organizations. It that estimates how much ultraviolet radiation will reach the Earth’s surface. This is to help you plan your sun exposure and prevent burns. The UV Index also includes the effects of cloud cover on the forecast UV level. It notes the risk of overexposure to the sun’s UV rays on a scale from 0 (low) to 11+ (extreme).

Understanding the UV Index UV Index values Exposure categories

0 – 2 Low. Low danger from unprotected exposure to the sun. But if you burn easily, cover up and use sunscreen with at least sun protection factor (SPF) 30.

3 – 5 Moderate. A moderate risk of harm from unprotected exposure to the sun. Wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and hat if you will be outside. Stay in shade around midday. Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every 2 hours.

6-7 High. A high risk of harm from unprotected exposure to the sun. Wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and hat if you will be outside. Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every 2 hours. Reduce your time in the sun from 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

8-10 Very High. A very high risk of harm from unprotected exposure to the sun. Wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and hat if you will be outside. Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every 2 hours. Seek shade outdoors. Try to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

11 + Extreme. An extreme risk of harm from unprotected exposure to the sun. Follow all of the above suggestions to protect yourself from the sun. Wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and hat if you will be outside. Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every 2 hours. Seek shade outdoors. Try to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Staying safe in the sun For many people, a small amount of exposure to sunlight is fine. But too much can be dangerous. Keep track of the UV Index. Protect your skin with clothing and sunscreen. Take extra care around sand, water and snow, which reflect UV rays and give you more exposure.

These steps will help you reduce your risks of cancer, premature aging of the skin, and other harmful effects.

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