Sunlight – Find out how it affects our skin

Posted: April 8th, 2018

By Dr. Laura Miguel – Hospital Ramón y Cajal

Sunlight is essential for our organism to function correctly, we can’t live without it. However, it’s important to remember that prolonged exposure to the sun builds up over the years and without the right sun protection, the skin can suffer damage and this in turn can lead to tumours like melanoma.

What is sunlight and how does it affect our skin?

Sunlight is the energy emitted by the sun in the form of electromagnetic radiation. This radiation can have different wavelengths:

UVC radiation is the most harmful for humans, however, it does not reach our planet because it is absorbed in the atmosphere. A minimal amount of UVB rays reaches us and can cause damage to the skin’s surface like premature aging (wrinkles, blemishes), skin cancer (they affect cell DNA and cause mutations), photosensitive diseases, eye damage, etc. The best way to prevent these harmful effects is to use the right sun protection.

Characteristics of UV rays and sun protection against UVA and UVB rays.

To achieve a good level of protection against the harmful effects of the UV radiation emitted by the sun we need to avoid prolonged exposure in the middle of the day (from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM) as this is when the UVB rays, in particular, are at their strongest; choose a sun cream with a high sun protection factor (at least SPF50+); reapply the cream at least every 2 hours and always after going in the water and above all, wear appropriate clothing that protects the skin and eyes (caps, hat, t-shirts, approved sunglasses).

To sum up… the sun has enormous benefits for our body, but, we need to be aware of the risks of prolonged exposure and not protecting the skin correctly.

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