Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the biggest risk factor when it comes to skin cancer. Prolonged exposure to the sun and its UV rays puts you at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. The first step in protecting yourself against skin cancer is understanding UV and what it does to your skin.
Learn how to protect yourself while still enjoying outdoor activities!
What is UV radiation?
The natural energy source produced by the sun is called UV radiation. Because UV has shorter wave lengths, it cannot be seen, like visible light, but can be felt on the skin. A source of artificial UV is tanning beds. Tanning bed UV is unfiltered and puts you at a dramatically higher risk of developing skin cancer with prolonged use.
There are two types of UV radiation that are known to cause skin cancer: UVA and UBV.
Ultraviolet A (UVA) causes premature skin aging. UVA rays are less intense than UVB rays but penetrate the skin deeper. The skin tries to protect itself by darkening or developing a tan. Tanned skin is damaged skin. No amount of tan is safe for the skin. UVA is also able to penetrate through glass, like your car’s windshield or that window in your office.
Ultraviolet B (UVB) cause skin burning. UVB damages the outermost layers of the skin, causing a sunburn, and even blistering. UVB rays can damage your skin year-round, especially at higher altitudes and reflect of areas of snow and ice.
Both are harmful to the skin. Unprotected exposure to UVA and UVB cause DNA mutations that lead to premature skin aging (pigmentation, wrinkles, uneven texture) and to the development of skin cancer.
Our eyes are also susceptible to UV exposure and can cause cataracts and eyelid skin cancers.
UV radiation leads to the development of Basal Cell Carcinomas and Squamous Cell Carcinomas on areas of chronic sun exposure. Sun burns caused by UV contribute to the development of Melanomas.
Often, the exposure to UV you have had throughout your lifetime causes a cumulative effect leading to skin cancer. However, if you take the steps to protect yourself now, you can help to reverse some of the harmful effects you have caused to your skin. Wearing sunscreen, UPF clothing and avoiding the peak hours of sun will help you to enjoy the sun safely.
Learn more about Sun Protection HERE!