What is UV?
The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the best natural source of vitamin D. However, too much UV exposure from the sun and other sources, such as solariums, is major cause of sunburn, premature ageing, eye damage and skin damage leading to skin cancer.
UV cannot be seen or felt. It is not like the sun’s light which we see, or the sun’s warmth (infrared radiation) which we feel. Our senses cannot detect UV so it can be damaging without us knowing.
Adverse Health Effects of over exposure to UV Radiation
Overexposure to UV radiation causes skin and eye damage, sunburn, tanning and ultimately can result in skin cancer.
- Sunburn occurs when too much UV radiation affects the skin. Skin turns red within two to six hours of being burnt. It will continue to develop for the next 24 to 72 hours. If enough UV exposure has occurred to cause sunburn, the damaged skin may become more sensitive to infrared radiation (heat).
The more exposure to UV radiation, the worse the sunburn becomes. The amount of sun exposure required to cause sunburn varies greatly from person to person. People with very fair, fair and light brown skin tend to be more sensitive to the sun and burn more easily. In summer, a fair-skinned person can burn in as little as 11 minutes. People with darker skin are less sensitive to the sun and may rarely burn.
Sunburn at any age, whether serious or mild, can cause permanent and irreversible skin damage that can lay the groundwork for skin cancer later in life. Your lifetime tally of UV radiation exposure, together with the number of severe sunburns, increases your risk of skin cancer.
- Eye damage related to UV exposure includes photoconjunctivitis, which is also known as snow blindness or welders flash, photokeratitis, macular degeneration, cataracts, pterygiums and skin cancer of the conjunctiva and skin surrounding the eye.
- Premature ageing including skin wrinkling, sagging, blotchiness and roughness is caused by exposure to UV radiation.
- Photosensitivity is an abnormally high sensitivity of the skin or eyes to UV radiation exposure. The skin can burn more easily increasing your risk of skin cancer.
Photosensitivity is caused by ingesting, inhaling or coming into skin contact with photosensitisers – substances that
cause photosensitivity. Photosensitisers include industrial chemicals, drugs, plants and some essential oils and fragrances. Some medications can cause photosensitivity. Check with your doctor or pharmacist, as alternate medication may be available.
With all these adverse effect, protection is better than cure!
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