Why it's important to protect ourselves from the sun

Why it's important to protect ourselves from the sun

Even though the time has not yet come to go to the beach and catch sun rays in order to achieve that silky dark skin color, pretty soon it will be here. During this transitional spring period, we can enjoy spending time outside, in picnics in nature with our beloved ones.

Although it is good for us to absorb some sun rays after a long winter, we must be cautious not to exaggerate with it, because the sun can also be very, very dangerous. Now is the time to inform ourselves on the severity of sun rays and the possible consequences it could have on our body. We have all heard of this ultraviolet rays, but do we really know the jeopardy we are exposing ourselves to? First of all, let’s determine what exactly UV rays are and what types of them exist.

Ultraviolet radiation is the energy produced naturally by the sun and artificially by sources like tanning lamps and beds. UV radiation is proven to be the main cause of skin cancer. This is why persons who are over-exposed to UV radiation are at a greater risk for skin cancer -because this type of radiation damages the DNA of the skin cells. Even though they cause tanning, they also cause sunburns, eye damage, and premature aging.

There are 3 types of UV radiation: [1]

- the long-wave UVA rays which penetrate deep in the thickest layer of the skin and damage the DNA in the skin cells. They also induce premature skin aging and photoaging.  Furthermore, a great amount of UVA rays is found in tanning beds, so your skin will be thankful if you avoid them. About 95% of UV rays that reach the Earth’s surface are the UVA rays, they are present through the whole year in equal intensity.

- the most dangerous short-wave UVB rays which are the actual reason for our sunburns because they burn the superficial layer of the skin. Suntan is the skin's natural reaction to exposure to the UVB rays which is caused by the pigment called melanin. The melanin protects skin cells from being damaged by the destructive UVB rays, so it's rightfully called "natural sunscreen". The problem with sunburns is that, although it will get better after a few days, the damage accumulates in the skin over years so you never actually get rid of it. You just don't acknowledge it's there.

- UVC rays that are consisted of more energy than the last two, but are not harmful to human body since they don't reside in the sunlight and can't get through the atmosphere.

Be aware when exposing to the sun and always remember, the tan will go away in a few months, but the damage done to your body will linger. In order not to jeopardize your health and lifestyle, always keep your skin, head, and eyes safe. Avoid sun exposure from 10am-4pm, use sunscreens, wear hats and sunglasses and avoid visiting solariums.

Nessie L.B.

[1] You can find more on this subject in the article: Be aware of the sun's danger and stay safe!



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