Summer is well underway, which means you’re probably spending a lot of time outdoors in the sun.
But have you stopped to think about how you’re protecting yourself from UV radiation?
While it might be the last thing on your mind, you should start any outdoor activity thinking about how you’re going to protect yourself from the sun’s UV radiation, a type of radiation that can be harmful if you’re exposed to too much of it.
Keep reading to learn more about UV radiation and how to protect yourself when you’re out in the sun.
What is UV radiation?
Ultraviolet (UV) light is a type of radiation produced by the sun. It’s also produced by human-made sources, such as tanning beds.
Radiation is essentially a type of energy. There are other types of radiation, including gamma rays and x-rays.
Why should you protect yourself from it?
In high doses, UV radiation can cause damage and several health problems. Specifically, UV radiation can cause damage to skin cells, which can often lead to skin cancer. UV radiation can also damage your eyes. Corneal damage, cataracts and macular degeneration are all possible chronic effects from UV exposure and can ultimately lead to decreased vision.
However, not all UV radiation is harmful. We do need regular sunlight to stay healthy. That’s because some of the UV radiation we receive from the sun plays an important role in helping our body create vitamin D. This vital nutrient helps the body do several things, including helping cells absorb necessary nutrients. While we can get some vitamin D from food, sunlight is the best way to get it.
How do you protect yourself from UV radiation?
So how do you maximize the benefit of sunlight while reducing the harmful risks of UV radiation? Here are some ways you can protect your skin when you’re outside:
- Avoid sunlight during midday and afternoon hours when UV radiation is most powerful
- Protect your eyes. Look for sunglasses labeled UV 400, which provides nearly 100% protection from harmful ultraviolet light rays. UV 400 protection lenses block wavelengths up to 400 nanometers.
- Cover your skin. Large hats and long sleeves can be great ways to minimize how much of your skin is exposed to direct sunlight.
- Use sunscreen. It’s hard to avoid being in the sun, especially in the summer. Sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher applied regularly can help minimize your UV exposure.
These strategies are important to follow even when it’s cloudy. You can still be exposed to UV radiation.