UV Exposure and Sun Protection
We all know about sunburns and using sunscreen to protect ourselves, but do we know about the specific reasons for this and the damage (other than sunburns) UV exposure can cause? Today we will discuss the details of ultraviolet radiation exposure and how to protect yourself.
The sun is the main source of UV radiation with three different types of waves including; UVA, UVB, and UVC. Majority of the UV rays from the sun that reach the ground are UVA rays with a small portion being UVB. Now what exactly does this mean for our skin?
UVA rays can cause skin cells to age and are mainly related to long-term skin damage such as wrinkles. They are also thought to play a role in some skin cancers.
UVB rays can damage the DNA in skin cells directly, and are the main rays that cause sunburns. They are also thought to cause most skin cancers.
Now that we have gone over the harm from specific rays, let's talk about some factors related to how the rays are reaching us on the ground.
Some of these factors include: time of day, seasons of the year, reflection off of surfaces, and clouds. UV rays are strongest between the hours of 10AM to 4PM. As I am sure you all can guess, spring and summer months are the highest time of exposure as well. Did you know that UV rays can bounce off surfaces such as water, sand, snow, and even pavement? Before my skin care journey began, I used to believe when the sky was cloudy I was somewhat protected from harmful sun exposure. I now know, and love to share, that this is not the case. UV rays can get through the clouds and still affect us in a major way. This information specifically is what led me to begin checking my local UV index daily. This lets me know the UV exposure regardless of clouds, time, season, etc.
You are probably wondering now what is the UV index?
The UV index (Ultraviolet Index) is an international standard of measurement of the strength of sunburn-producing ultraviolet radiation at a particular location and time. The scale ranges from 0-11+ with 0 being no exposure and 11+ being extreme exposure. You can easily find your local UV index by using your favorite search engine and typing in "UV index" and your area code.
Here is an example of a simple UV Index chart:
Now let's list some ways on how to protect yourself from these harmful rays!
1. Daily SUNSCREEN
2. Reapplication of sunscreen throughout day according to product recommendation
3. Protective clothing
4. Protective accessories: hats, sunglasses, etc.
5. Staying in the shade when outside especially during peak hours of UV exposure