By: Ellie Eckert
Now that Summer is only a few months away, it’s time to get the necessary items to protect yourself, and your skin. You may be thinking, what’s the harm in a sunburn? An individual’s risk for melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns. Unfortunately, getting sunburned can be hard to prevent, which was proved in recent polls by the Skin Cancer Foundation. According to the survey, 42 percent of people reported getting sunburned at least once a year. Forgo taking a risk with your health, and instead invest in the proper sunscreen for your skin.
It is necessary to understand UVA and UVB rays. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “most people are exposed to large amounts of UVA throughout their lifetime, and although they are less intense than UVB, UVA rays are 30 to 50 times more prevalent.” In other words, UVA is relatively equal in intensity during all daylight hours throughout the year, and can even force their way through clouds and glass. If that doesn’t catch your attention, you might consider that UVA plays a major roll in skin aging and wrinkling. UVB, on the other hand, is the main cause of skin reddening and sunburn. These rays play a key part in the development of skin cancer. Unlike UVA, UVB varies in intensity based on season, location, and time of day. The Skin Cancer Foundation notes that “the most significant amount of UVB hits the US between 10 AM and 4 PM from April to October. However, UVB rays can burn and damage your skin year-round, especially at high altitudes and on reflective surfaces such as snow or ice.” Each rays are slightly different, and some consider UVB to be most harmful due to the damage it causes the outer layer of the skin. However, UVA rays penetrate into deeper layers of the skin, which can only mean that we need protection from both harmful rays, which is otherwise known as broad-spectrum protection.
When considering UVA and UVB, it is also necessary to factor in SPF, or Sun Protection Factor. According to the Library of Congress, SPF measures how effectively the sunscreen formula limits skin exposure to UVB rays that burns the skin, however it does not measure UVA protection. In simpler terms, SPF is a multiplication factor. If an individual can brave the sun for fifteen minutes without burning, then an SPF of ten would resist the burn for ten times longer (150 minutes).
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