What are UV rays?

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are invisible rays that are part of the energy that comes from the sun. UV rays can burn the eyes, hair and skin if these parts of the body are not properly protected or if they are exposed to too much sun. However, they are very useful in our ecosystem.

UV rays help our bodies make vitamin D, which strengthens bones and teeth and helps our bodies build immunities against diseases like rickets and colon cancer. They are also used to treat psoriasis; The rays slow the growth of skin cells, preventing the outbreak of the itchy patches that psoriasis is known for. They also have various commercial uses, such as sterilization and disinfection. Some animals, like bees, can see in ultraviolet, which helps them collect pollen from flowers.

Despite all its positive uses, UV rays are still very harmful to anyone who spends a great deal of time in the sun without adequate protection. The most common effect of exposure to them is sunburn. Sunburn causes blood to rush to the affected area as the body tries to cool the burn, and the damaged skin eventually peels off. In addition to burning skin, sunburn can cause skin cancer.

Skin cancer is often caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, but can occur even when there is no evidence of sunburn. Dark-skinned people are just as susceptible to UV damage as fair-skinned people. Eye damage from these rays first appears as pain or temporary blindness and blurred vision, but over time, cataracts can develop. The UV Index measures the intensity of UV radiation and gives people an idea of ​​how long they can stay in the sun before damage is possible. A rating of 1-3 means the chance of UV damage is low, while a rating of 8-10 means the chance is high.

The best way to combat UV rays is with body protection. Always wear protective sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes. A hat will also protect your hair from UV damage, as well as the skin on your face and neck.

While the best skin protection is long, loose clothing, this isn't always practical, so a protective sunscreen is the next best thing. There are many types of sunscreen, but they all have a number that indicates how protective they are. The higher the number, the more protection they provide. Always wear sunscreen, even if you'll only be in the sun for a few minutes. Be smart, cover up, wear sunscreen and enjoy the sun!

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