July marks the beginning of Sun Safety Awareness Month, a time to learn about the radiating part of mother nature that provides us with natural vitamin D but also exposes us to danger if sun safety is not practiced.
While raising awareness of Sun Safety, it is important and helpful to know that there are three types of UV rays:
- Ultraviolet A (UVA): UVA rays penetrate deep into layers of the skin and lead to premature signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. UVA rays are consistent throughout the year regardless of the season. Even on a cloudy day, 80% of the sun's UVA rays still penetrate through the cloud and reach our skin and eyes. Tanning beds work primarily by emitting UVA rays.
- Ultraviolet B (UVB): UVB rays are the main cause of sunburns, thickening of the dermis, as well as various types of skin cancer, including melanoma. UVB rays penetrate the outermost layer of skin, causing damage to skin cells, eyes, and even the immune system.
- Ultraviolet C (UVC): UVC is the strongest of the UV radiation spectrum. However, the good news is that UVC does not reach us as the ozone layer blocks it. UVC rays can cause burns and eye injuries if exposed to even mere seconds, but since the penetration depth of UVC rays is low, the injuries tend to resolve within a week with virtually no long-term health risks such as skin cancer or vision loss.