Ultraviolet (UV) rays are electromagnetic radiation from the sun and human-made products like welding torches and tanning beds. Essentially, they produce radiation that can be harmful to humans.
There are three types of UV rays:
UVA rays affect the skin’s appearance rather than its health. Too much exposure to UVA rays makes the skin look older, affects the skin’s elasticity and causes acne.
UVB rays can seriously damage the skin and cause skin cancer when they go through the skin’s outer layers.
UVC rays are the rays that protect the earth’s ozone layer. When UVC rays go through the ozone layer, they are transformed into harmless UVB rays.
The Harmful Effects of UV Rays
Experts always recommend protecting your skin against the harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays, but how exactly does exposure to it affect us?
1. It Produces Cancer
The most common cancer form, skin cancer, is one of the most severe side effects of exposure to UV rays. People genetically predisposed to skin cancer are at a higher risk of developing this disease. So are people who have had cancer before.
2. It Results in Premature Aging
UV rays can cause premature aging in two ways. First, it can damage the elastin and collagen found in the connective tissues that support the skin, resulting in the appearance of wrinkles. Second, UV rays can damage the DNA in the skin cells, causing them to die earlier than usual. This causes fine lines and other symptoms of premature aging.
3. It Causes Skin Stress
Exposure to UV rays causes the skin to burn or stress out. This causes symptoms like redness, flaking skin, swelling, itching and irritation. This kind of stress is called erythema.
4. It Causes Photoaging
UV rays exposure also causes the skin to age too soon. This makes the skin wrinkly, saggy and prone to developing age spots.
5. It Is a Leading Cause of Blindness
You may think that UV rays only affect the skin, but they can cause damage to the eyes as well. UV rays can cause photokeratitis, which damages the cornea or the front part of the eye. This is very painful and can leave the victim permanently blind.
6. It Causes Sun Spots
UV rays can cause a specific kind of sunspot called a lentigo. These can be either dark brown or black but can also be light brown or flat.
7. It Causes DNA Damage
Exposure to UV rays causes the DNA in skin cells to break. While some of this DNA damage can be repaired, it can kill the skin cells if it is already too severe. This causes mutations and can eventually lead to cancer.
8. It Increases the Risk of Autoimmune Diseases
Several studies show that people with low vitamin D levels have a higher risk of developing autoimmune diseases. While the sun is a great way to increase a vitamin D level, it is also a significant risk factor for autoimmune diseases.
These are just some of the adverse effects that UV rays can have on our health. Many other effects are less obvious but remain harmful, too.
The harm that UV rays may cause is not to be ignored. You can protect yourself from these harmful effects by wearing sunblock and avoiding the sun during peak hours.
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