What You Need to Know About the UV Index and How it Impacts Your Skin Health
Before you walk out the door you always check to make sure you have your phone, wallet, and keys, but there is another important step you need to take: checking your local UV Index. The Ultraviolet (UV) Index is an international standard that represents the intensity of solar radiation at a given place and time, and consequently the amount of skin-damaging UV radiation reaching the earth’s surface and the risk of sunburn that day. It’s a powerful tool that helps you enjoy outdoor activities while limiting your risk of damage and cancer in your skin.
The Index is on a scale from 0 to 11. The higher the UV Index, the greater the potential for damage to your skin and eyes, and the less time it takes for harm to occur:
How Your Skin Cells Can Go from Happy to Harmful:
When skin is sunburned, the body has to work overtime to regenerate healthy skin cells to replace the sun-damaged ones. During this process, ultraviolet radiation can cause skin cells to mutate and become cancerous. Exposure to the sun and severe sunburns can speed up these cancerous skin cell mutations over time as your body cannot identify which skin cells are duplicating to help your body vs harm it.
While your body might not be able to identify good skin cells vs bad skin cells, you can support your skin by checking the UV Index daily and avoiding ultraviolet rays. Experts agree this is the most important factor when it comes to preventing the development of skin cancer.
How Can the UV Index Help Me to Protect Myself?
When it comes to your UV Index report, there are some simple recommendations you can put into your routine to reduce your exposure to solar UV radiation.
The World Health Organization recommends utilizing sun protection including wide brim hats, sunglasses and sunscreens with SPF of at least 30 when UV Index values are moderate (UV index levels of 3-5). Extra protection and greater awareness of high sunburn risks are urged for very high and extreme levels of UV exposure (when the UV Index is 8 or above). At this elevated UV Index level, a typical individual may sunburn in less than 20 minutes.
Protect yourself every day, even when it’s cloudy, by following these tips:
1- Check the UV Index every day
2- Make adjustments to your plans based on the UV report
Variations in the UV Index:
The intensity of the sun’s UV rays reaching the earth’s surface, and the UV Index ratings, vary according to many factors:
- Cloud thickness – heavy clouds can block most of the UV rays. But thin or patchy clouds allow most UV rays through, and can even intensify the UV radiation level. Thus, safety practices are needed even on cloudy days.
- Ozone layer– ozone absorbs some of the UV radiation, preventing it from reaching the surface of the Earth. The thinner the ozone layer, the stronger the UV radiation levels.
- Latitude– UV radiation levels are highest in equatorial regions, and they decrease. towards the poles (north or south poles).
- Altitude– the closer you are to the sun, the stronger the UV rays.
- Seasons– The UV Index is highest in spring and summer months.
- Earth surface characteristics– UV rays are reflected, thus intensified, by different surfaces around you, such as snow, sand and water.
- Time of the day-the intensity of UV radiation is highest around noon time, when the sun reaches its maximum elevation in the sky.
You can also easily check your local UV Index and the recommended sun protection tips on your SkinVision app. Open the app and click the UV Index sun icon in the bottom right corner next to the Smart Camera for the official UV Index report wherever you are.