Summer is here with long, hot days full of outdoor activities. It’s also sunburn season. Sunburns and blisters tell us we’ve had too much sun, but they’re too late to serve as an alert. That’s why it’s so important to check the UV Index when you look at your daily weather forecast. It’s often ignored, because many people are unfamiliar with the scale. The UV Index serves as a guide for how much protection you will need to be safe from damaging UV rays outdoors, 1 being least protection, 10 (typically) being the most. In extreme climate regions, the scale might go above 10.
It’s no secret that you should wear sunscreen if you plan to be outdoors for an extended period of time, but UV rays can harm more than your skin. It can be damaging to your vision and suppress your immune system too. That’s why even the lowest UV Index rating includes sunglasses. For reference, the 1 of 10 example was taken from a rainy day here in Texas, yet it’s still advised to use sunscreen and shades.
UV light is classified by three wavelengths. UVA, UVB, and UVC. Our ozone layer protects us from UVC, but we are still bombarded by UVA and UVB. You can see the effects of UVB right away. It’s the wavelength responsible for sunburns. UVA has more long-term effects as it passes deeper into the skin leaving wrinkles and a leathery texture over time. Both can cause skin cancer in under-protected skin.
Yes, a summer tan may be fashionable, but health is fashionable at any age. Please check your local UV Index when preparing for your fun summer outing.