Since May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we’ll be highlighting sun protection throughout the month.
First, let’s start with the basics:
What are UV rays and why are they harmful?
According to skincancer.org, UV radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum that reaches the earth from the sun. It’s wavelengths are classified as UVA and UVB.
UV radiation damages cellular DNA, which produces genetic mutations leading to skin cancer.
UVA rays penetrate much deeper in the skin and can even come through glass. This means it’s rays are reaching you (damaging your skin!) in your car or your house and your office when you sit near windows. UVA rays are primarily responsible signs of aging, although, studies in recent years have shown that UVA also contributes to the development of skin cancers, like basal and squamous cells. UVA rays are also the reason you get a tan, which isn’t as good as it sounds. ANY color change to your skin is a sign of damage, and that damage leads to premature aging. So, before you think about getting in a tanning bed (which produces 12 times the UVA rays as the sun) remember that you’re basically laying in a time machine that’s making you old-looking and wrinkly much faster than necessary, and increasing your odds of developing skin cancer by up to 75%!
UVB rays penetrate and damage the superficial layers of the skin. These rays are shorter and responsible for your sunburn, as well as being the main contributing factor to the development of skin cancers. Time of day, season, and location all play a role in how strong UVB rays are, but no matter the factors you always need sun protection if the sun is up! As a general rule, 10 AM and 4 PM from April to October is when UVB rays are the most significant in the U.S.
UV radiation is dangerous and not to be taken lightly. Skin cancer is serious and can be deadly. Make sure you are always taking the necessary precautions to protect your skin. Wear protective clothing when you are spending extended periods of time outdoors and a broad spectrum SPF each day, whether you think you’ll be outside or not. Your skin is your largest organ, take care of it!