How the Sun Affects Your Skin
The sun produces two kinds of ultraviolet (UV) rays:
- UVA rays have a longer wavelength and cause the skin to age.
- UVB rays have a shorter wavelength and cause the skin to burn.
Both types of rays are harmful in large quantities.
When skin is exposed to UV rays, it responds by producing melanin. Melanin is a dark substance that helps prevent the skin from absorbing too many harmful rays.
UV radiation promotes the growth of abnormal skin cells, which can multiply rapidly to form skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with the number of cases increasing every year. Just one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles your chance of developing melanoma, a serious skin cancer, later in life.
To protect yourself from too much sun:
- Use sunscreen with Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 or higher.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses.
- Cover as much of your skin with protective clothing as you can.
- Avoid exposure to direct sun at peak hours, typically 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.