You keep seeing us post about applying sunscreen and then look outside and it’s cold and cloudy. You must think we’re crazy, right? What in the world are those two Soltrino girls going on about? I bet when you look for sunscreens now, you search for one that says ‘Broad Spectrum’, but do you know what that means? Okay, here’s a short lesson on UV Radiation and what it means to you! Sunlight is a part of the radiation given off by the sun and ultraviolet (UV) light or radiation is a part of that. The sun’s rays contain three types: UVA, UVB and UVC. Nearly all skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun or UV light/radiation.
The ultraviolet light in sunlight damages the DNA in the skin cells, as well as causing premature ageing of the skin and eye damage (including cataracts). This damage can happen years before a cancer develops. We do need a small amount of sunlight to create vitamin D but during the summer months we get enough sun with a few minutes exposure outside peak times (10am to 4pm). And during the winter months two to three hours a week is enough.
UVA makes up most of our natural sunlight (up to 95 percent). We can think of it as the part that causes ageing and wrinkles as it penetrates deeper, resulting in damage. Studies over the last 20 years have shown it contributes and may even initiate the development of skin cancer. One thing you may not be aware of is that UVA is present with relatively equal intensity during all daylight hours and throughout the year. It can even penetrate clouds and glass so we need UVA protection every day.
UVB light can also burn the skin and cause skin reddening. It is the main cause of non melanoma skin cancer basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the two most common forms of skin cancer, which slowly develops in the upper layers of the skin .The intensity of UVB varies during the day and the year. But it can burn your skin all year round and reflective surfaces, such as water, bounce back 80 percent of the rays so they hit the skin twice. These rays, unlike UVA, do not significantly penetrate glass. You may think a tan protects you but think again. Tanning or darkening of the skin is due to melanin being produced by pigment cells. The cells make this in an attempt to protect you from further UV damage and so your skin becomes darker. So a tan or darkening is a sign the skin has already been damaged.
The last of the UV radiation, UVC is filtered out by the ozone layer, so we don’t need to worry about it – phew!
Human skin. Of absorbing and reflected uv rays. UV penetration into the layers of the skin. UVB rays do not penetrate the skin deep as they blocked by the epidermis. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin, thus damaging elastin and collagen fibres.
A UV index is a measure of how strong the UV is and we are very lucky to have this information live courtesy of Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre and the Bermuda Weather Service, but don’t forget cloud cover doesn’t mean you wont get burned by UVB or sun damage from UVA and yes need to UVA protection even in the winter and when in your cars or office by that big glass window.
So now do you see why we tell you to apply sunscreen in February?!