Experts are now telling us to wear
protection everyday, all year round, against the harmful ultraviolet
(UV) rays of the sun. This means investing in good hats, visors,
sunglasses, protective clothing. And yes, it also means putting on a
good quality sunscreen lotion everyday, not just at the beach.
An important reason for taking such a
preventive course of action is the little known fact that we accumulate
UV exposure, starting from childhood. Our skin does not forget any
over-exposure to harmful UV rays from sunlight even if it was 40 years
ago. So, if we are not cautious enough and have just 5 minutes of
unprotected sun exposure a day, this will be accumulated to an enormous
amount in a year's time.
Damage from sun exposure is cumulative
and diseases that may result from this like skin cancers can form even
with and after use of sun protection owing to previous UV exposure.
Sunscreen particularly can help prevent premature aging and wrinkling of
the skin and reduce the risk of additional UV damage.
Although UV rays consist of only 5% of
all solar radiation, this small amount poses the greatest risk to our
human body. The damages that UV rays with different wavelengths can
cause are as follows:
This causes long term damage that
accelerates the skin's aging process. It penetrates deep into the dermis
and destroys the skin's natural collagen. Although UVA exposure does not
burn, it injures DNA structure, langerhans cells, the immune system, and
is suspected of triggering cancer. Visibly, it causes photoaging
(premature wrinkling), dryness, wrinkles, leathery skin and
UVB rays create the burning sensation
or tropical discoloration of the skin's epidermis. Any pink or redness
means that the skin is getting radiation. That "great tan" is nothing
more than damaged skin caused by radiation. UVB is most prevalent from
10am to 2pm.
This is deadly to plant and animal
life. A healthy ozone layer filters out this wavelength. It is also
created by artificial light, including tanning beds.
The stratospheric ozone layer
surrounding the earth blocks all UVC and much of UVB from reaching our
skin. However, UVA passes through the clouds, water, glass, plastic and
even many types of sunscreen lotions applied on our skin.
It reaches us in large amounts and
nearly constantly especially in countries that are situated between the
equator and latitude 60 degrees. This means that we receive more doses
of UVA than UVB. So, if we are getting a skin tan or sun burn from UVB,
the amount of UVA absorbed at the same time by our body will be even
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