For many people, one of the most beloved summertime activities is the simple act of going outside and enjoying the nice weather. It’s no secret that hanging out in the sun often makes us feel happier and healthier. In fact, taking in small daily amounts of sunshine has been proven to boost our mood, enhance bone health, and improve certain skin conditions.
However, although sunlight is good for the body and mind, it’s important to remember that too much of a good thing can be damaging. UV Safety Month, which occurs every July, serves as a helpful reminder to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of sunlight so that we can continue to enjoy the benefits.
The light and warmth that you feel cascading over you on a sunny day come from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The sun actually generates three different types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC.
The most dangerous form of UV radiation comes from UVC light, which is thankfully almost completely absorbed by the ozone layer in our atmosphere before ever reaching us. UVA and UVB rays, on the other hand, do end up reaching us, with UVB reaching the outermost surface of our skin and UVA actually reaching the middle layer of our skin.
UVA and UVB light affect our skin in different ways. For example, UVB light is what causes tanning and sunburn. It is most concentrated in areas close to the equator and in high-altitude areas, and it is most intense during the summer months. In contrast, UVA light is present all year round and not impacted by clouds, geographical region, or altitude. However, both forms of UV light can cause permanent damage.
How to Protect Yourself From Harmful UV Radiation
Moderation is key when it comes to enjoying the sun. Luckily, minimizing the damaging effects of UV radiation isn’t very difficult – you just need to keep in mind a few key precautions when going out. These precautions include:
- Applying and regularly reapplying a 15+ SPF sunscreen
- Taking breaks from the sun during peak hours, which are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Wearing protective clothing, such as sunglasses and hats
- Checking the UV index daily and planning your outdoor activities accordingly to avoid overexposure
- Using a parasol.
Fun in the Sun With Safety in Mind
Although UV safety is important all year long, it’s especially important during the summer months. By taking these precautions, you can enjoy the nice weather and reap the health benefits of sunlight without having to deal with the damaging side effects. From all of us here at Pacific Gynecology and Obstetrics Medical Group, we hope you have a great, safe summer.