July is UV Safety Month. The observance raises awareness of the importance of protecting the skin from the harmful effects of the UV rays of the sun. Over-exposure to UV rays increases a person’s risk of skin cancer. Too much sun can also weaken the immune system and cause eye problems, wrinkles, age spots, and leathery skin.
As Utah clean-up specialists, we aim to keep people safe in the wake of disasters, including fire, floods, and storms. We also advise you to steer clear of elements that can bring potential harm, including UV rays.
Here are just a few common effects of the sun on the human body:
- Sunburn – Sunburn results in red skin due to increased blood flow. Blood flow revs up when the superficial blood vessels dilate as a result of UV radiation exposure. Sunburn may lead to pain, edema, and blistering of the skin several days after exposure. People with fair skin, blond or red hair, blue eyes and freckles are at greater risk for sunburn. If you have fair skin, you can get burned after 15 to 30 minutes in the sun. The face, neck, and trunk are more sensitive to UV rays than the limbs. Children and the elderly are prone to burn easier than other age groups.
- Tanning – Tanning is the delayed pigmentation of the skin. Tanning becomes very noticeable about two days after sun exposure, increasing gradually for the next several days before beginning to fade slowly. Tanning is caused by the increase of the pigment cells in the skin because of the heightened activity of the enzyme tyrosinase. This process leads to the formation of more melanin granules in the epidermis.
- Premature aging of the skin – Repeated exposure to the sun’s UV rays may result in premature aging of the skin. Premature aging includes several clinical signs such as wrinkles, dryness, sagging, deep skin furrows, loss of elasticity, and uneven pigmentation. These symptoms are caused by degenerative changes in the collagen and elastin of the skin.
- Suppression of the immune system – Repeated exposure to UV radiation contributes to the development of non-melanoma skin cancers. UV radiation causes relative immunosuppression, which weakens the skin’s natural tendency to reject tumors.
- Damage to the eyes – More than 99 percent of UV radiation is absorbed by the front of the eyes, resulting in cataracts, corneal damage, and macular degeneration. These conditions can ultimately lead to blindness.
- Skin cancer – Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and has been linked to sun damage.
Wearing protection, such as hats or long sleeves, and using sunscreen can prevent the ill effects of too much exposure to the sun.