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The Sun and Sun Protection Tips from
By Hanna Nilson



We all need sunshine; both alluring and necessary, it's easy to forget about the potential damage it can cause without sun protection.

The sun is our skin's primary source of vitamin D, which helps us to absorb calcium for stronger and healthier bones. For sun-bathers; it's great way to keep looking healthy and tanned. However, in reality, only a minimal amount of sun is actually needed. Any excess exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays without sun protection, can cause some serious skin damage. Without proper sun protection, there is also a risk of eye damage, strain on your immune system and even cancer.

Different kinds of sun protection is needed because the sun produces three types of ultraviolet rays:

UVA: These rays are transmitted through the earth's atmosphere and reach the earth's surface without obstruction. Therefore, they are the type of sunshine which we are most exposed to. They are relatively harmless if absorbed in moderation and with minimal sun protection.

UVB: More dangerous than UVA rays, are UVB rays. Despite being partially blocked by the earth's ozone layer, these rays can still easily cause sun damage. Some consequences of overexposure to this type of sunshine may include sever sunburns, cataracts, immune system damage and various types of skin cancer such as Melanoma.

UVC: Being the most intense of all the UV rays, we're luck that the earth's ozone layer blocks and prevents them from ever reaching the surface. If the atmosphere were ever thin enough to allow these rays to pass, they would cause unimaginable harm.

It is also important to keep in mind that the severity of sun radiation varies depending on location, elevation and time of day and season. For example, in the northern hemisphere, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, the sun would be at its highest point in the sky and thus, the strongest. Furthermore, if you are located at a higher elevation than usual, extra sun protection should be applied. This is because areas of higher elevation have thinner air density and there is less cloud coverage. Also, as people are located closer to the equator, they become more susceptible to stronger sun exposure. Even with overcast, UV rays reflect off both snow and water, increasing the probability of sunburn. So don't be deceived. Just because it's a cloudy day, doesn't make you invulnerable to sun damage.

When considering the different levels and types of sun protection, it is helpful to know what to look out for and how various skin types determine the appropriate precautions. For example, unprotected sun exposure is all the more dangerous for people who have any or a combination of the following.

Moles and/or freckles on the skin: Even if you don't have them yourself, if your siblings or parents have them, this may suggest that you are susceptible to the same consequences of excessive sun exposure.

Fair complexion, which includes lighter skin tones, blond hair and/or light eye color: This skin type suggests that there is little melanin in the skin which is our body's way of filtering the sun's UV rays. Therefore, when out in the sun; wearing sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are good ways of helping to prevent damage to your body.

Family history of skin cancer or melanoma: Just because you may not fit into any of the above categories, doesn't mean you are free from possibility of sun damage.

Remember, as inviting as a warm sunny day might be, taking the proper precautions will save you the worry of potential harm. The sun is earth's best friend and everyone loves a relaxing day at the beach. So, as long as you don't forget the sunscreen, sit back, relax and enjoy the sunny day!


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