Why Should I protect my Skin During Long Periods of Exposure to Direct Sunlight?

Written by E Kennedy on July 9, 2014

It seems like with each passing day, more and more people are joining the conversation about how to best protect ourselves from harmful UV rays. With this in mind, it seems reasonable to ask—why is UV protection so important?

While UV rays can be found in a number of harmless artificial sources, each and every day we’re directly exposed to the largest generator of harmful UV rays: the sun. There is actually a range of UV rays to be found in the spectrum that exists in sunlight. UV rays in this spectrum are often separated into the categories UVA, UVB and UVC rays.

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It’s important to remember that while the current conversation about UV rays often focuses on the harmful effects it can have, there are beneficial effects as well. UVB rays are a great source of vitamin D, and one of the best reasons to recommend getting outside to enjoy some fun in the sun. There is also some research that demonstrates further medical applications for UVA rays in the treatment of vitiligo and psoriasis.

However, while a healthy lifestyle should include a reasonable amount of time spent in the sun, there are a good number of harmful effects UV rays can have on overexposed skin. The most well known effect of UVB radiation is sunburn, which can produce results ranging from mild irritation to skin pealing. Furthermore, receiving an unhealthy amount of UVA, UVB and UVC rays can have devastating effects on your skin. While a moderate amount of time spent in the sun is healthy, heavy and repeated overexposure to sunlight and these UV rays can lead to harmful or even deadly skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma.

Preventing these diseases is exactly the reason why UV protection is so incredibly important. With proper preparation and care, just about anyone can enjoy a day in the summer sun without having to worry. Preventative measures are all that it takes. Buying a UV protection umbrella, wearing sunglasses and baseball caps, using sunblock that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, and limiting the amount of time you’re exposed to the sun are all great steps to take. Remember, while it’s important to make sure you’re aware of the dangers of UV rays and the damage they can do, there’s plenty of easy preparations you can take to keep your fun in the sun carefree.

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