During holidays, national dates, long weekends and in summer, a place that many choose to go is the beach, the countryside or the swimming pool, places where the solar incidence is very strong, but not only on days like Those of us must take care of the sun’s rays, especially UV rays, on a day-to-day basis we also spend a certain time in open spaces, where these rays come into contact with our skin. For this reason, we must be careful with the number of hours we spend exposed to the sun’s rays , and always use sunscreen .

The ultraviolet rays are part of the solar energy reaching the earth. Being made up of very short waves, they are invisible; but that doesn’t take away the damage they can cause . Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a form of radiant energy that comes from the sun. The various forms of radiation are classified according to the wavelength measured in nanometers (nm), which is equal to one millionth of a millimeter. The shorter the wavelength, the more energy the radiation will have.

There are three categories of UV radiation

  • UV-A, between 320 and 400 nm: UV-A radiation is the least harmful and the one that reaches the Earth in the greatest amount. Almost all UV-A rays pass through the ozone layer.
  • UV-B, between 280 and 320 nm: UV-B radiation can be very harmful. The ozone layer absorbs most of the UV-B rays from the sun. However, the current deterioration of the layer increases the threat of this type of radiation . Prolonged exposure to UV-B radiation can cause skin cancer and accelerate skin aging, known as premature skin aging ; It can also cause eye damage and weaken the human immune system.
  • UV-C, between 200 and 280 nm: UV-C radiation is the most harmful due to its high energy. Fortunately, the oxygen and ozone in the stratosphere absorb all UV-C rays, thus never reaching the Earth’s surface.

What are the effects of UBA and UVB rays on the skin?

  • Free radicals : UV radiation is one of the main causes of free radicals. The free radicals can damage the genetic material of cells damaging to our body, causing, in the best case aging, and at worst, serious illnesses, including cancer.
  • Breakdown of collagen fibers : the sun severely damages collagen fibers, causing an abnormal accumulation of elastin, which causes certain enzymes called metalloproteinases to be produced in large quantities to repair damage, but sometimes these enzymes produce fibers disorganized collagen called “sun scars.”
  • Immune system : When the skin is exposed directly to the sun, certain substances are released that suppress the function of skin cells called Langerhans cells. These cells take the antigens present on the skin and transport them to the lymph nodes, activating the immune system to protect the body against harmful agents.

How to protect the skin from UV rays?

Something we must always be aware of is to take care of and protect our skin from the sun’s rays , since the incidence of UV rays on our skin can cause serious effects. We must remember that the skin is the largest organ in our body, and that it protects our body from the outside world. Some simple things that we can include in our daily routine are:

  • Putting on sunscreen .
  • Wear clothing that covers and protects our skin.
  • Wear a hat or cap that covers our head, since the scalp is also very sensitive and can be affected.
  • Putting on sunglasses, which protect our eyes from UV rays and also protect the skin around them, which is a very thin and sensitive layer.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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